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Dendrogeomorphological study of glacier fluctuations in the Italian Alps during the Little Ice Age

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In the Italian Alps, the maximum advance of the Holocene usually coincided with the Little Ice Age (LIA), which reached a climax for most glaciers during the first two decades of the 19th century. Moraines deposited during the peak of the LIA usually obliterated glacial deposits from previous advances. Using dendrogeomorphology, it is possible to date glacier advances before the LIA peak. In the central Italian Alps, it was possible to pinpoint an advance of Ghiacciaio del Madaccio, which took place in the first two decades of the 17th century. With dendrogeomorphology, it is also possible to reconstruct in detail the behaviour of glaciers during the Little Ice Age climax. Trees growing on the margin of glacier tongues may have suffered damage, recognizable by the presence of wood scars and the formation of particularly thin rings; their dating allows both ice advances and retreats to be dated. This is the case for Ghiacciaio Grande di Verra in the western Italian Alps; owing to the rapid decrease of the tree ring widths, it is possible to recognize climate changes responsible for both lower wood production and, sometimes, subsequent glacier advances, although the latter take place with a certain delay. For Ghiacciaio del Lys in the western Italian Alps, a response time of five years was determined.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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