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SPATIAL ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN LONGEST-LASTING WINTER SNOW COVER AND COLD REGION LANDFORMS IN THE HIGH DRAKENSBERG, SOUTHERN AFRICA

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ABSTRACT.

Although snow is known to influence landform genesis and distribution, the spatial associations between snow and landforms within particular cold regions has received limited research attention. We present a case study from the high Drakensberg of southern Africa, comparing the contemporary spatial pattern of longest-lasting cold-season snow patches with the distribution patterns of active and relic cold region landforms. Two 30 m resolution sets of TM images dated 3 and 19 August 1990 and a DEM were used to demonstrate the geographic trends of snow patch depletion during late winter. Geomorphological phenomena with known coordinates were then incorporated into the GIS. The spatial distribution of several periglacial land-forms (earth hummocks, stone-/turf-banked lobes, block deposits, large sorted patterned ground) coincides with topographic positions that limit snow accumulation. However, the strong spatial association between longest-lasting snow patches and palaeo-moraines implies substantial snow accumulation at some high altitude south-facing sites during the last glacial cycle.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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