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Fluvial transport, its dynamics and structure, constitute a good indicator of the condition of the natural environment in various climatic zones. Analysis of fluvial transport components allows for precise determination of the rate and directions of transformations of geosystems of any importance. In the polar zone, very sensitive to global changes, it seems expedient to identify the mechanisms and structure of fluvial transport, particularly in the conditions of the observed glacier retreat, the main alimentation source of proglacial rivers. Studies carried out in the zone revealed difficulties in determination of fluvial transport structure, particularly the actual bedload of gravel-bed rivers based on direct measurements, resulting from: short measurement series, lack of standardization of research methods and measurement equipment, and strategy of selection of study objects and sampling. The research project presented concerns determination of mechanisms of fluvial transport and sediment supply to Arctic gravel-bed river channels. The mechanisms reflect the processes of adaptation of proglacial rivers of the Arctic zone to changing environmental conditions, and indicate the dominant directions of transformations of paraglacial geosystems of various importance. For studies on Arctic geosystems, the region of the south Bellsund (SW Spitsbergen) was selected due to extensive knowledge on its hydro-meteorological and glacial-geomorphological conditions, and long-term measurement series carried out by the research station of the MCSU, among others within the framework of the international monitoring network: SEDIBUD (IAG) and Small-CATCHMENT program. For detailed studies, rivers with various hydrological regimes were selected, functioning at the forefield of the Scott and Renard Glaciers. The Scott River glacial catchment and glacier-free catchments of the Reindeer Stream and the Wydrzyca Stream (with a snow-permafrost hydrological regime) meet the selection criteria for representative test catchments analyzed for the following programs: SEDIFLUX, SEDIBUD, and POP.
The aim is a better understanding of the impact of contemporary climatic change (posterior to Little Ice Age) on plant dynamics and the morphodynamic processes active at the glacial margins in polar environments. The selected research field is constituted of the Brøgger Peninsula, where erosion assessments will be evaluated for various processes (frost weathering, runoff, biological weathering, …).
Changes in surface reflection at the arctic tundra at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard (79 N) were monitored during the melting season 2002 using a low cost multispectral digital camera with spectral channels similar to channels 2, 3, and 4 of the Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite sensor. The camera was placed 474 m above sea level at the Zeppelin Mountain Research Station and was programmed to take an image automatically every day at solar noon. To achieve areal consistency in the images (which is necessary for mapping purposes) the images were geometrically rectified into multispectral digital orthophotos. In contrast to satellite images with high spatial resolution the orthophotos provide data with high spatial and high temporal resolution at low cost. The study area covers approximately 2 km2 and when free of snow, it mainly consists of typical high arctic tundra with patchy vegetation and bare soil in between. The spectral information in the images was used to divide the rectified images into maps representing different surface classes (including three subclasses of snow). By combining classified image data and ground measurements of surface reflectance, a model to produce daily maps of surface albedo was developed. The model takes into account that snow-albedo decreases as the snow pack ages; and that the albedo decreases very rapidly when the snow pack is shallow enough (20-30 cm) to let surface reflectance get influenced by the underlying ground. Maps representing days with no image data (due to bad weather conditions) were derived using interpolation between pixels with equal geographical coordinates. The time series of modeled albedo-maps shows that the time it takes for the albedo to get from 80% to bare ground levels varies from less than 10 days in areas near the coast or in the Ny-Ålesund settlement till more than 70 days in areas with large snow accumulations. For the entire study area the mean length of the 2002 melting period was 28.3 days with a standard deviation of 15.1 days. Finally, the duration of the snowmelt season at a location where it is measured routinely, was calculated to 23 days, which is very close to what is the average for the last two decades.
Part of the international project Arctic Costal Dynamics (ACD) were Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo participates. The working group consists of Trond Eiken (UoO), Bjørn Wangensteen (UoO) and Rune Ødegård (Gjøvik University College). The aim of this part of the ACD-project is to quantify coastal cliff erosion by the use of terrestrial photogrammetry.