Special Issue "Transformation of Glacial and Periglacial Environments in Mountain Regions"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luca Carturan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Padova, Padua, Italy
Interests: the alpine cryosphere; glacial and periglacial hydrology; glacier mass balance monitoring and modeling; glacier and permafrost variations and their coupling with atmospheric changes; topo-climatic controls of cryosphere changes; local and regional assessments of cryospheric changes
Dr. Roberto Seppi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Interests: glacial and periglacial geomorphology in mountain environments; development and evolution of permafrost landforms; remote sensing in periglacial environments; geomorphological mapping in mountain environments

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Current transformations of glacial and periglacial environments in mountain areas are among the clearest signs of degradation of the alpine cryosphere under sustained atmospheric warming.

These transformations have significant impacts on geo-ecosystems and society. The major concerns raised by the high climatic sensitivity of glacial and periglacial environments regard the future decrease in water availability, due to shifts in the streamflow regime that are caused by the melting of glaciers and ground ice, and the geomorphological hazards associated with increased slope instability and changes in the precipitation regime and phase.

Transformations are seldom linear. More often, they are amplified or dampened by feedbacks and processes that regulate the local or regional response to atmospheric changes. For example, recent studies have highlighted that there is an elevation-dependent warming that magnifies the climatic sensitivity of cryospheric components located at a high elevation.

In mountain regions, glacial and periglacial processes often share overlapping elevation ranges, in particular over high-relief areas subject to rock and snow avalanches. Composite landforms originating from the interaction of glacial and periglacial processes have been recently described in different mountain regions, with several examples of rock glaciers derived from the evolution of Little Ice Age glacial deposits or closely related to them. The dynamics of these composite landforms remain poorly investigated.

We invite you to submit a manuscript that documents and analyzes transformations of alpine glacial and periglacial environments. All scales of application are accepted, from single case studies to assessments at the regional or mountan range scale. There are no specific indications on the investigated time span, which, however, should preferably include the last decade.

Papers that deal with the coupling of atmospheric and glacial/periglacial transformation processes are welcome, as well as contributions that are focused on impacts, innovative methodological approaches (such as new remote sensing techniques), monitoring series, and historical reconstructions.

Dr. Luca Carturan
Dr. Roberto Seppi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • alpine cryosphere
  • glacial and periglacial environments
  • mountain regions
  • atmospheric warming
  • cryosphere–atmosphere coupling
  • glacier retreat
  • permafrost degradation.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Long-Term Changes of Morphodynamics on Little Ice Age Lateral Moraines and the Resulting Sediment Transfer into Mountain Streams in the Upper Kauner Valley, Austria
Water 2020, 12(12), 3375; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123375 - 01 Dec 2020
Viewed by 858
Abstract
Since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), formerly glaciated areas have undergone considerable changes in their morphodynamics due to external forces and system-internal dynamics. Using multi-temporal high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) from different remote sensing techniques such as historical digital aerial [...] Read more.
Since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), formerly glaciated areas have undergone considerable changes in their morphodynamics due to external forces and system-internal dynamics. Using multi-temporal high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) from different remote sensing techniques such as historical digital aerial images and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and the resulting DEMs of difference (DoD), spatial erosion and accumulation patterns can be analyzed in proglacial areas over several decades. In this study, several morphological sediment budgets of different test sites on lateral moraines and different long-term periods were determined, covering a total period of 49 years. The test sites show high ongoing morphodynamics, and therefore low vegetation development. A decrease as well as an increase of the mean annual erosion volume could be demonstrated at the different test sites. All test sites show a slope–channel coupling and a decrease in the efficiency of sediment transport from slopes to channels. These developments are generally subject to conditions of increasing temperature, decreasing short-term precipitation patterns and increasing runoff from adjacent mountain streams. Finally, the study shows that sediment is still available on the investigated test sites and the paraglacial adjustment process is still in progress even after several decades of deglaciation (~133 years). Full article
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Article
Modeling of Mass Balance Variability and Its Impact on Water Discharge from the Urumqi Glacier No. 1 Catchment, Tian Shan, China
Water 2020, 12(12), 3297; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123297 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 749
Abstract
Originating in the Tian Shan mountains, Urumqi River plays a key role in terms of water supply to downstream areas. In its headwaters, Urumqi Glacier No. 1 (UG1) is the largest glacier contributing to water discharge. Assessing its response to the changing climatic [...] Read more.
Originating in the Tian Shan mountains, Urumqi River plays a key role in terms of water supply to downstream areas. In its headwaters, Urumqi Glacier No. 1 (UG1) is the largest glacier contributing to water discharge. Assessing its response to the changing climatic conditions in the area is of major importance to quantify future water availability. We here apply COSIPY, a COupled Snowpack and Ice surface energy and mass balance model in PYthon, to UG1, implementing a new albedo parameterization which integrates site-specific bare-ice albedo values on a pixel-by-pixel basis observed by remote sensing. We assess model performance threefold: quantitatively based on long-term measurement data of (1) surface mass balance (SMB) and (2) water discharge as well as qualitatively (3) comparing simulated snow line altitudes to such imated on the basis of time-lapse photography. Comparison of the modeled SMB with annually-averaged data from ablation stakes reveals that COSIPY including the new albedo parameterization accounts for 57.6% of the variance observed in the measurements. The original albedo parameterization performs only slightly inferior (57.1%). Glacier-wide comparison between modeled and glaciological SMB shows high agreement. In terms of discharge prediction, COSIPY reproduces onset and duration of the discharge season well. Estimated discharge from the whole catchment shows shortcomings in exactly matching the measured times series, but interannual variability is captured. Full article
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Article
Numerical Reconstruction of Three Holocene Glacial Events in Qiangyong Valley, Southern Tibetan Plateau and Their Implication for Holocene Climate Changes
Water 2020, 12(11), 3205; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113205 - 16 Nov 2020
Viewed by 535
Abstract
The dating of well-preserved Holocene moraines in the Qiangyong Valley, southern Tibetan Plateau (TP), offers great potential for reconstructing Holocene glacier extents and examining climate changes in the region. Guided by Holocene moraine features, this study used Geographic Information System (GIS) model tools [...] Read more.
The dating of well-preserved Holocene moraines in the Qiangyong Valley, southern Tibetan Plateau (TP), offers great potential for reconstructing Holocene glacier extents and examining climate changes in the region. Guided by Holocene moraine features, this study used Geographic Information System (GIS) model tools to reconstruct paleo-glacier surfaces and glacier equilibrium line altitude (ELA) depressions for three Holocene glacial stages in the valley. The GIS-based models showed that the Qiangyong Valley contained ice volumes of 8.1 × 108, 6.2 × 108, and 4.6 × 108 m3 during the early Holocene, Neoglacial, and Little Ice Age (LIA) glacial stages, and that the ELA was decreased by ~230 ± 25, ~210 ± 25, and ~165 ± 25 m, respectively, compared to modern conditions. Furthermore, the summer temperatures were estimated to be 1.56–1.79, 1.37–1.64, and 1.29–1.32 °C cooler than present to support the three Holocene glacier extents, based on the evidence that the respective precipitation increased by 20–98, 13–109, and 0.9–11 mm relative to the present, which were derived from the lacustrine pollen data for the southern TP. By comparison, this study found that the amplitudes of the ELA-based summer temperature depressions were much larger than the pollen-based counterparts for the three glacial stages, although the two proxies both showed increasing trends in the reconstructed summer temperatures. Full article
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Article
Minor Imbalance of the Lowermost Italian Glacier from 2006 to 2019
Water 2020, 12(9), 2503; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092503 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
The response of very small glaciers to climate changes is highly scattered and little known in comparison with larger ice bodies. In particular, small avalanche-fed and debris-covered glaciers lack mass balance series of sufficient length. In this paper we present 13 years of [...] Read more.
The response of very small glaciers to climate changes is highly scattered and little known in comparison with larger ice bodies. In particular, small avalanche-fed and debris-covered glaciers lack mass balance series of sufficient length. In this paper we present 13 years of high-resolution observations over the Occidentale del Montasio Glacier, collected using Airborne Laser Scanning, Terrestrial Laser Scanning, and Structure from Motion Multi-View Stereo techniques for monitoring its geodetic mass balance and surface dynamics. The results have been analyzed jointly with meteorological variables, and compared to a sample of “reference” glaciers for the European Alps. From 2006 to 2019 the mass balance showed high interannual variability and an average rate much closer to zero than the average of the Alpine reference glaciers (−0.09 vs. −1.42 m water equivalent per year, respectively). This behavior can be explained by the high correlation between annual balance and solid precipitation, which displayed recent peaks. The air temperature is not significantly correlated with the mass balance, which is main controlled by avalanche activity, shadowing and debris cover. However, its rapid increase is progressively reducing the fraction of solid precipitation, and increasing the length of the ablation season. Full article
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