Paraglacial coasts responses to glacier retreat and associated shifts in river floodplains over decadal timescales (1966-2016), Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

Abstract : The aim of this paper is to quantify and map the impact of the post‐Little Ice Age climate change on the coastal evolution on three glacier catchments in the Kongsfjorden area in Svalbard. Climatic data at Ny‐Ålesund indicate an increase in the annual mean air temperature of +4 °C from 1969 to 2016 and an increase in precipitation. On the northern coast of the Brøgger Peninsula, the Austre Lovénbreen, Midtre Lovénbreen, and Vestre Lovénbreen glaciers have experienced a net retreat in response to changing meteorological conditions. Because of this retreat, the glaciers have disclosed a large area of 7 km2 composed of terrigenous sediments. These sediments are transported by runoff and created coastal sandur deltas. Channel network behavior has been studied using the computation of the active floodplain width by photointerpretation, which decreased in average from 1966 to 2010. This demonstrated a contraction of the active braided belt and a decrease in the number of braided channels. A photointerpretation analysis combined with acquisition of dGPS data during field work shows a mean shoreline progradation of +0.16 m a−1 from 1966 to 2016, with a maximal advance of +82 m seaward. Since 1966, coastal progradation has decreased in time with higher mean values at the beginning of the studied period and an erosional trend from 1990. The sublittoral area was studied using analog side scan sonar in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2017. Three prodeltas were identified and underwent a huge extension from 2009 to 2017. In the light of this knowledge, our main conclusion is that, by retreating, glaciers have an impact on the sediment availability and on the capacity of the fluvial system to effectively transport sediment to the shoreline. These two factors control the overall coastal evolution by regulating the sediment supply to the coastal area. The coastal zones that were fed with sediments by runoff have experienced a coastal progradation, and those that lost this supply have undergone a coastal recession. Due to the contraction of proglacial floodplains, current progradation concerns restricted coastal areas.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 2:42:25 PM
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Marine Bourriquen, Denis Mercier, Agnès Baltzer, Jérôme Fournier, Stéphane Costa, et al.. Paraglacial coasts responses to glacier retreat and associated shifts in river floodplains over decadal timescales (1966-2016), Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. Land Degradation and Development, Wiley, 2018, ⟨10.1002/ldr.3149⟩. ⟨hal-01869431⟩



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