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The Occurrence of Permafrost within the Glacial Domain
Open AccessArticle

Deglaciation Rate of Selected Nunataks in Spitsbergen, Svalbard—Potential for Permafrost Expansion above the Glacial Environment

Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
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Geosciences 2020, 10(5), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10050202
Received: 8 April 2020 / Revised: 20 May 2020 / Accepted: 22 May 2020 / Published: 25 May 2020
Spitsbergen has recently experienced a continuous deglaciation process, linked to both glacier front retreat and lowering of the glacier surface. This process is accompanied by permafrost aggradation from the top of the slopes down to the glacier. Here, the authors determine the rate of permafrost expansion in this type of vertical profile. To this end, seven nunataks across the island were analysed using Landsat satellite imagery, a high-resolution digital elevation model (ArcticDEM), and geoinformation software. Over the last 24–31 years, new nunataks gradually emerged from the ice cover at an average linear rate of 0.06 m a−1 per degree of increment of the slope of the terrain at an average altitude of approximately 640 m a.s.l. The analysis showed that the maximum rate of permafrost expansion down the slope was positively correlated with the average nunatak elevation, reaching a value of approximately 10,000 m2 a−1. In cold climates, with a mean annual air temperature (MAAT) below 0 °C, newly exposed land is occupied by active periglacial environments, causing permafrost aggradation. Therefore, both glacial and periglacial environments are changing over time concomitantly, with permafrost aggradation occurring along and around the glacier, wherever the MAAT is negative. View Full-Text
Keywords: Spitsbergen; permafrost aggradation; deglaciation; nunataks; glaciers; climate warming Spitsbergen; permafrost aggradation; deglaciation; nunataks; glaciers; climate warming
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MDPI and ACS Style

Szafraniec, J.E.; Dobiński, W. Deglaciation Rate of Selected Nunataks in Spitsbergen, Svalbard—Potential for Permafrost Expansion above the Glacial Environment. Geosciences 2020, 10, 202.

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