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Thermal and Mechanical Responses Resulting From Spatial and Temporal Snow Cover Variability in Permafrost Rock Slopes, Steintaelli, Swiss Alps

Title data

Draebing, Daniel ; Haberkorn, Anna ; Krautblatter, Michael ; Kenner, Robert ; Phillips, Marcia:
Thermal and Mechanical Responses Resulting From Spatial and Temporal Snow Cover Variability in Permafrost Rock Slopes, Steintaelli, Swiss Alps.
In: Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. Vol. 28 (2017) Issue 1 . - pp. 140-157.
ISSN 1099-1530
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ppp.1921

Official URL: Volltext

Project information

Project title:
Project's official titleProject's id
Influences of snow cover on thermal and mechanical processes in steep permafrost rock wallsNo information

Project financing: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KR3912/1-1)
Swiss National Science Foundation (DACH project no. 200021E-135531)
Dr. Hohmann grant from the Society for Geography of Cologne

Abstract in another language

Abstract The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of snow on permafrost and rock stability at the Steintaelli (Swiss Alps). Snow depth distribution was observed using terrestrial laser scanning and time-lapse photography. The influence of snow on the rock thermal regime was investigated using near-surface rock temperature measurements, seismic refraction tomography and one-dimensional thermal modelling. Rock kinematics were recorded with crackmeters. The distribution of snow depth was strongly determined by rock slope micro-topography. Snow accumulated to thicknesses of up to 3.8 m on less steep rock slopes (<50°) and ledges, gradually covering steeper (up to 75°) slopes above. A perennial snow cornice at the flat ridge, as well as the long-lasting snow cover in shaded, gently inclined areas, prevented deep active-layer thaw, while patchy snow cover resulted in a deeper active-layer beneath steep rock slopes. The rock mechanical regime was also snow-controlled. During snow-free periods, high-frequency thermal expansion and contraction occurred. Rock temperature locally dropped to -10 °C, resulting in thermal contraction of the rock slopes. Snow cover insulation maintained temperatures in the frost-cracking window and favoured ice segregation. Daily thermal-induced and seasonal ice-induced fracture kinematics were dominant, and their repetitive occurrence destabilises the rock slope and can potentially lead to failure. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Snow cover; Rock permafrost; Rock wall stability; Thermal processes; One-dimensional thermal modelling; Seismic refraction tomography
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Geomorphology
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2019 08:35
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2019 08:35
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/48592