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Rockglacier acceleration in the Turtmann valley (Swiss Alps): Probable controls

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Temporal variations in mountain permafrost creep are discussed within a regional study on rockglacier 1 kinematics. On all investigated active rockglaciers in the Turtmann valley, a distinct acceleration of horizontal velocities has been recorded since the early 1990s. Since variations in rockglacier movement are mainly discussed in the context of temperature fluctuations in the current literature, the link between surface velocities and temperature development is investigated at two different scales. The signal of rockglacier speed-up in the period 1993–2001 (here termed as ‘regional signal' since all rockglaciers show this behaviour) fits well with the general increase in air temperature recorded during the 1990s. On the local scale, the pattern of BTS values coincides well with the surface-velocity pattern, but in areas with high velocities the BTS temperatures are clearly below -3°C. Thus, marginal permafrost occurrence is not indicated in this data and the high velocities probably do not result directly from ‘warming' permafrost conditions, as is suggested by other studies.
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Keywords: Swiss Alps; acceleration; climate change; dynamics; rockglacier

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, DE-53115, Bonn, Germany 2: Department of Geography, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057, Zürich, Switzerland

Publication date: 01 June 2005

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