Albedo on a glacial foreland at ground level and landscape scale driven by vegetation-substrate patterns
Keywords:glacial foreland, glacial moraine, outwash plain, outwash channel, moss heath, primary succession
Recent anthropogenic climate change has caused both glacial retreat and increased vegetative growth on Arctic and subarctic tundra landscapes resulting in changing albedo and energy budgets. Glacial forelands are topographically and ecologically heterogeneous landscapes comprising ice-contact and outwash deposits subject to primary succession. The most recent moraines on the foreland of the Skaftafellsjökull in southern Iceland are mostly unvegetated, but vegetation cover increases with the age in a general sense. Vegetated outwash channel terraces occur between the moraines, and a broad vegetated outwash plain occurs distal to the oldest moraine. Variations in albedo were measured at ground level to determine the specific role of vegetation types and varying substrates. Albedo and coverage by major plant groups were measured along transects established on moraines ranging in age from 20 to 130 years and the terrace of one outwash channel and three locations on the outwash plain. Total vegetation cover and coverage by mosses increases on the glacial moraines largely as a function of time but is subject to strong aspect effects. Total vegetation cover and moss cover are highest on outwash deposits, possibly due to a sheltered aspect and greater uniformity of the outwash surface. Measured albedo exhibits a modest positive correlation with total vegetation cover and a modest negative correlation with rock and soil exposure. The strongest positive correlation was found between albedo and moss cover. The differences in brightness between moraines and outwash deposits are evident visually at the landscape scale on satellite photographs and quantifiable by image-processing software.
Copyright (c) 2023 Lawrence Tanner, Genevieve Kikukawa, Kaylyn Weits
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