Rock glaciers are the most prominent permafrost-related mountain landforms. This study investigates the effects of the discharge from an intact rock glacier on the hydrological, thermal and chemical dynamics of a high-elevation stream in the NW Italian Alps. Despite draining only 39 % of the watershed area, the rock glacier sourced a disproportionately large amount of discharge to the stream, with the highest relative contribution to the catchment streamflow occurring in late summer - early autumn (up to 63 %). However, ice melt was estimated to be only a minor component to the discharge of the rock glacier, due to its insulating coarse debris mantle. The sedimentological characteristics and internal hydrological system of the rock glacier played a major role in its capability to store and transmit relevant amounts of groundwater, especially during the baseflow periods. Besides the hydrological influence, the cold and solute-enriched discharge from the rock glacier significantly lowered the stream water temperature (especially during warm atmospheric periods) as well as increased the concentrations of most solutes in the stream. Furthermore, in the two lobes forming the rock glacier, different internal hydrological systems and flowpaths, likely driven by different permafrost and ice content, caused contrasting hydrological and chemical behaviours. Indeed, higher hydrological contributions and significant seasonal trends in solute concentrations were found in the lobe with higher permafrost and ice content. Our results highlight the relevance of rock glaciers as water resources, despite the minor ice melt contribution, also suggesting their potential, increasing hydrological importance in the light of climate warming.

Bearzot, F., Colombo, N., Cremonese, E., di Cella, U., Drigo, E., Caschetto, M., et al. (2023). Hydrological, thermal and chemical influence of an intact rock glacier discharge on mountain stream water. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 876(10 June 2023) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162777].

Hydrological, thermal and chemical influence of an intact rock glacier discharge on mountain stream water

Colombo, N
Primo
;
Basiricò, S;Crosta, G B;Frattini, P;Rossini, M
2023

Abstract

Rock glaciers are the most prominent permafrost-related mountain landforms. This study investigates the effects of the discharge from an intact rock glacier on the hydrological, thermal and chemical dynamics of a high-elevation stream in the NW Italian Alps. Despite draining only 39 % of the watershed area, the rock glacier sourced a disproportionately large amount of discharge to the stream, with the highest relative contribution to the catchment streamflow occurring in late summer - early autumn (up to 63 %). However, ice melt was estimated to be only a minor component to the discharge of the rock glacier, due to its insulating coarse debris mantle. The sedimentological characteristics and internal hydrological system of the rock glacier played a major role in its capability to store and transmit relevant amounts of groundwater, especially during the baseflow periods. Besides the hydrological influence, the cold and solute-enriched discharge from the rock glacier significantly lowered the stream water temperature (especially during warm atmospheric periods) as well as increased the concentrations of most solutes in the stream. Furthermore, in the two lobes forming the rock glacier, different internal hydrological systems and flowpaths, likely driven by different permafrost and ice content, caused contrasting hydrological and chemical behaviours. Indeed, higher hydrological contributions and significant seasonal trends in solute concentrations were found in the lobe with higher permafrost and ice content. Our results highlight the relevance of rock glaciers as water resources, despite the minor ice melt contribution, also suggesting their potential, increasing hydrological importance in the light of climate warming.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Climate change; Discharge; Hydrology; Permafrost; Rock glaciers; Water chemistry;
English
10-mar-2023
2023
876
10 June 2023
162777
none
Bearzot, F., Colombo, N., Cremonese, E., di Cella, U., Drigo, E., Caschetto, M., et al. (2023). Hydrological, thermal and chemical influence of an intact rock glacier discharge on mountain stream water. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 876(10 June 2023) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162777].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/406996
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