Analyzing Rock Glaciers

1559 Words Jan 27th, 2018 6 Pages
How do rock glaciers affect the critical zone of alpine environments?
The term critical zone is used quite extensively in recent literature of Earth Science. The critical zone is define by the NRC (2001) as “a heterogeneous, near surface environment in which complex interaction involving rock, soil, water, air, and living organism regulate the natural habitat and determine availability of life sustaining resources”. The alpine is a critical zone, defined by the NSF in 2001, as the zone that extends from the top of the canopy to the bottom of the aquifer.
In alpine environment, within the critical zone, the top layer acts as an open system that is subject to elemental gain and losses. Rock glaciers are an important component of high mountain systems, a common occurrence in Arctic and alpine permafrost regions, play an important role in alpine mass balances and aspects of morphologic stability (Jansen and Herganten, 2006). In addition, rock glaciers can serve as a visible indicator of mountain permafrost (Barsch, 1977 and Haeberli, 1985). Permafrost phenomena in mountain areas are a function of: Mean Annual Air Temperature (MAAT), and elevation, direct solar radiation, local relief and topography, snow cover thickness and duration, and avalanche activity (Heaberli, 1992). As a critical zone, rock glacier landform focuses on the interconnected chemical, physical and biological processes shaping alpine landscape. Rock glacier is a dynamic system, change in mean annual air…
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