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Recent decay of a single palsa in relation to weather conditions between 1996 and 2000 in Laivadalen, northern Sweden

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Abstract:

This study presents the decay of a small palsa complex between 1996 and 2000 in Sweden's southernmost major palsa bog. The outline of the palsa was mapped during three summers in 1996, 1999 and 2000 and an automatic weather station measured air temperature, precipitation, snow depth, wind speed and wind direction between 1997 and 2000. The decay of the palsa was enormous in the dome–shaped part of the palsa complex: the height decreased during the observation period from 2.3 m to 0.5 m. In 2000, the palsa dome had almost totally disappeared: only some peat blocks in a palsa pond were left. The decay of the palsa was complex with a number of degradational processes, of which the main processes were block erosion, thermokarst and wind erosion. Thermal melting has occurred along the edges of the palsa and possibly below the frozen core of the palsa since 1998/99. Wind erosion was observed during summer and the maximum estimated deflation was 80 cm. The decay of the palsa dome was especially large between 1999 and 2000, probably due to a high mean annual temperature, high summer precipitation and the warming influence of the large pond surrounding the palsa. The present climate in the palsa bog with a mean annual temperature of −0.8°C is not favourable for palsa development and maintenance, despite a strong wind regime which can provide suitable conditions for snowdrift.

Keywords: Sweden; deflation; palsas; permafrost degradation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0435-3676.2002.00164.x

Affiliations: Uppsala University, Sweden, Email: frieda.zuidhoff@natgeog.uu.se

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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