About the project


Project title: Aeolian and niveoaeolian accumulation in periglacial and glacial environments in central Spitsbergen (Ebba Valley)

Principal investigator: Krzysztof Rymer, MSc

Entity: Adam Mickiewicz University

Duration of the project: 36 months (20.07.2015 - 19.07.2018)

Expenses in PLN: 145 960,00

Agreement number: UMO-2014/15/N/ST10/00825

Research project objectives:
The most important aim of this project is to calculate the value of mineral material supply to the surface as a result of niveoaeolian and aeolian processes and to specify the role of these processes in morphogenesis of the areas characterised by dry polar climate variation. These problems have not been yet clearly resolved in the literature. Measurements will be conducted at selected sites localised in the Ebba Valley. This partly glaciers covered valley is located in the northern end of Billefjorden, next to the Petunia Gulf (Petuniabukta). Test sites will represent the different environments of polar geoecosystem: the surface of old raised marine terraces with tundra vegetation, the sandur area of Ebba river, solifluction slopes and alluvial cones, frontal moraines of Ebba glacier, as well as the area of itself. This studies will be associated with meteorological measurements and with modeling using Geographic Information System.
Another objective is the detailed analysis of the collected material to determine its main characteristics, so its grain size composition, petrography and grain morphology. Will be taken also an attempt to define age and the rate of accumulation of niveoaeolian and aeolian covers which are present in the analysed area, as well as to determine the rate of degradation of existing forms and covers (mineral material redeposition by wind and sheet wash in summer period).
Extremely important is verification of the hypothesis that the role of niveo-aeolian processes is more important in the transformation of the environment than aeolian processes (what was previously assumed) and to check whether the particle surface, undergoing relatively short transportation in this area, will be characterized by typical features of aeolian material (e.g. matt of the quartz grains surface).

Research project methodology:
In the research procedure will be applied several field, laboratory and desk studies methods:
1. Standard meteorological measurements every hour (air temperature, air and soil humidity, wind speed and direction) using automatic weather stations,
2. Measurements of aeolian accumulation during the period from July to September on selected research sites, using widely used and proposed by Ganor in 1975 catcher MDCO (marble dust collector),
3. Measurements of niveo-aeolian accumulation from deep snow patches existing in the valley in early July, through melting the material from snow,
4. Spot collection of mineral samples (weighing between 0.5 to 1 kg) from profiles in pits made in the niveo-aeolian and aeolian covers; sediment sampling with intact structure for the implementation of the micromorphological analysis allowing, for example the detection of cyclic deposition structures,
5. Every year detailed mapping of niveo-aeolian and aeolian covers and features using the GPS system,
6. Additional measurements of wind speed and direction, and soil humidity using non-permanent devices,
7. Standard laboratory analysis of the collected in the field material (granulometry, petrography and grain morphology),
8. Radiometric method dating of the organic materials derived from the niveo-aeolian and aeolian covers by C14 method,
9. Detailed analysis of cartographic, aerial and satelite materials of the analyzed area, mostly for wind streems modeling in the valley using GIS.

Expected impact of the research project on the development of science
Solution of the undertaken problem will improve understanding of the functioning of the polar geoecosystem. Niveo-aeolian and aeolian processes are one of the less recognised elements of this system. Previous studies within the Central Spitsbergen were limited to short-term, seasonal measurements of aeolian transportation or accumulation, observations of wind erosion effects on a relatively small area and litological analysis of aeolian covers fragments.
The obtained results will contribute certainly to the development of knowledge about matter and energy circulation in glaciated valley. In particular, if they will be used in a comprehensive environmental analysis taking into account the data concerning climate and all geomorphological processes with particular emphasis on periglacial and glacial processes.