Grants and Contracts Details
The scientific study of landscape development in cold regions is subject to the same set of scientific principles as steer our modern view of all landscape development. Nevertheless, understanding of cold region landscapes must incorporate recognition of the importance of glaciation in many locations, as well as embrace the importance of cold temperatures not only associated with glaciation but also with cold environments that are not actively glaciated. There has been a general tendency to believe that chemical processes in cold regions are absent, or at least greatly overshadowed by mechanisms associated with overnight or seasonal freezing. This assessment of the importance of chemical processes is founded on relatively little information, and where modern research has taken up the issue quantitatively, chemical processes have emerged as important. Fieldwork in front of a small glacier in the Jotunheimen Mountains of Norway, and on two hilltops in Arctic Finland has produced two sets of rock samples suitable for analysis using electron micro-analytical techniques, and, in the case of the Finnish samples, suitable for dating using cosmogenic techniques. The analysis of these samples will provide a clear picture of the mechanical, chemical, and biological processes responsible for breaking up the rock in these two cold, but different, environments. Cold regions, which cover a significant portion of the Earth's land surface, are likely to experience significant changes under what, increasingly, appear to be warming climatic conditions. At the same time these fragile regions are experiencing increasing pressures from human settlement, recreation, and natural resource extraction. The net result of these natural and/or man-induced pressures is that cold regions are likely to undergo long-term adjustment while simultaneously experiencing intense short-term impacts. Under such a set of impacts the potential for substantial, if not devastating, environmental problems is very great. However, for reasons associated with their sparse populations and overall difficulty of access, cold, mountainous regions are poorly understood in comparison to many other regions of the world. From both purely scientific and also pragmatic management perspectives it is essential to develop a stronger understanding of the fundamental mechanisms shaping these landscapes. The present research contributes directly to knowledge of the processes disrupting rock surfaces in both a high, alpine environment (Norway) and a low Arctic environment (Finland). It is specifically directed at a little-studied topic, chemical breakdown, which on the few occasions it has been systematically studied in cold regions has emerged as much more important than the scientific community generally recognizes.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/03 → 8/31/04|
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