Subglacial sediments are a large component of the sediment budget of glacierized catchments but insights into the subglacial origin of sediments (bedload, in particular) linked to proglacial runoff dynamics remain scarce. In this study, we use a tracer-based approach to quantify meltwater proportions related to sediment transport at two proglacial streams, draining glaciers (named debris-covered and clean glacier) of different size, aspect and elevation range with contrasting distribution and thickness of debris cover and lithology of the subglacial sediments (i.e., metamorphic vs. sedimentary), in the Sulden/Solda catchment (Italian Alps). Results indicate that the glacier melt component (75 to 80 %) was associated with bedload concentrations of 1 to 10 kg m−3 at the debris-covered glacier and much lower concentrations of 0.01 to 1 kg m−3 at the clean ice glacier. At the seasonal scale, bedload and suspended sediment concentrations at both sites strongly varied with discharge. While daily bedload concentrations varied by up to two orders of magnitude obscured the seasonal development of bedload concentrations at both sites, a clear seasonality for suspended sediment concentrations was found. At the daily scale, the relationship of discharge, bedload, and suspended sediment was more complex because discharge and sediment transport did not always follow the daily variation of air temperature, or similar daily air temperatures resulted in different discharge and sediment transport responses and vice versa. Glacier size, presence of debris cover, and substrate were identified as the main drivers of meltwater dynamics and sediment transport at both glaciers. This study adds further insights into the interplay of meltwater contributions and sediment transport, which are essential to better assess the impact of climate warming on sediment supply in glacierized catchments.

Meltwater-driven sediment transport dynamics in two contrasting alpine proglacial streams

Savi, Sara
Writing – Review & Editing
;
Scorpio, Vittoria
Writing – Review & Editing
;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Subglacial sediments are a large component of the sediment budget of glacierized catchments but insights into the subglacial origin of sediments (bedload, in particular) linked to proglacial runoff dynamics remain scarce. In this study, we use a tracer-based approach to quantify meltwater proportions related to sediment transport at two proglacial streams, draining glaciers (named debris-covered and clean glacier) of different size, aspect and elevation range with contrasting distribution and thickness of debris cover and lithology of the subglacial sediments (i.e., metamorphic vs. sedimentary), in the Sulden/Solda catchment (Italian Alps). Results indicate that the glacier melt component (75 to 80 %) was associated with bedload concentrations of 1 to 10 kg m−3 at the debris-covered glacier and much lower concentrations of 0.01 to 1 kg m−3 at the clean ice glacier. At the seasonal scale, bedload and suspended sediment concentrations at both sites strongly varied with discharge. While daily bedload concentrations varied by up to two orders of magnitude obscured the seasonal development of bedload concentrations at both sites, a clear seasonality for suspended sediment concentrations was found. At the daily scale, the relationship of discharge, bedload, and suspended sediment was more complex because discharge and sediment transport did not always follow the daily variation of air temperature, or similar daily air temperatures resulted in different discharge and sediment transport responses and vice versa. Glacier size, presence of debris cover, and substrate were identified as the main drivers of meltwater dynamics and sediment transport at both glaciers. This study adds further insights into the interplay of meltwater contributions and sediment transport, which are essential to better assess the impact of climate warming on sediment supply in glacierized catchments.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1496929
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