Ground and air temperature monitoring, geophysical soundings and dendrological investigations were applied to a basaltic talus slope–rock glacier system from Detunata site in the Apuseni Mountains (Western Romanian Carpathians) to verify the presence of sporadic permafrost at 1020–1110masl, well below the regional limit of mountain permafrost. The near 0°C mean annual ground surface temperatures imposed by the large negative annual thermal anomalies of the ground (up to 7.4°C), together with the high resistivity values and the occurrence of trees with severe growth anomalies, support the presence of permafrost at this location. Temperature measurements and ground air circulation experiments proved that the so-called “chimney effect” is the main process favoring the ground overcooling and allowed for the construction of a model of ground air circulation in complex morphology deposits. The texture and porosity of the debris were quantified along with the local morphology in order to evaluate their role upon the chimney circulation. The debris porosity was found to be very high promoting intense ground overcooling during the cold season, including the periods of high snow cover due to the development of snow funnels. It efficiently reduces the heat transfer during summer thus contributing essentially to permafrost preservation. In compound morphologies, the depressed and low-lying features are the cold zones subjected to winter overcooling and summer chill, while the high-positioned and convex-up landforms become warm air evacuation features with positive thermal anomalies. Tree-ring measurements showed that the growth of cold-affected trees is higher during colder intervals (years to decades) probably as a consequence of the weakened katabatic air outflow during cooler summers. The dendrological analysis of multi-centennial spruces and their growth rates also provided palaeoclimatic inferences for the last 200years.
Geomorphology – Elsevier
Published: Oct 15, 2017
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