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BIMODAL - Biogeomorphic dynamics on lateral moraines in the Turtmann glacier forefield, Switzerland

The project 'Biogeomorphic dynamics on lateral moraines in the Turtmann glacier forefield, Switzerland' investigates feedbacks between vegetation succession and geomorphic dynamics on Little Ice Age lateral moraines in the Turtmann glacier forefield (Switzerland).

Project information

 

BIMODAL is a research project in the field of biogeomorphology, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Our project aims at understanding coupled geomorphic and ecologic dynamics on lateral moraines in space and time. These biogeomorphic feedbacks are an important control for sediment dynamics in glacier forefields and other alpine environments. Therefore, they represent a major interdisciplinary research challenge.

Our conceptual ‘biogeomorphic umbrella’ combines ecologic and geomorphic research and integrates several spatiotemporal scales (plot scale to lateral moraine subsystem scale, months to successional/ paraglacial timescale).

 

Aims

  1.  Ecosystem engineer species: To identify ecosystem engineers with their relevant traits and to quantify their impact on geomorphic sediment transport processes on lateral moraines.
  2. Conditions for feedbacks (‘biogeomorphic window’): To determine the geomorphic and vegetation properties relevant for biogeomorphic interactions on lateral moraines, as well as boundary conditions and thresholds.
  3. Patterns and dynamics: To understand the decadal, scale-dependent development of biogeomorphic lateral moraine systems.

 

Study Site

The Turtmann glacier forefield is located at the southern end of the Turtmann valley in the Swiss Alps. The Turtmann glacier has been retreating since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850, interrupted by advances in the 1980s/ 90s and accelerating since the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Its glacier forefield represents a perfect research area for the investigation of coupled vegetation and geomorphic dynamics due to proceeding vegetation succession and highly active geomorphic processes. These especially act on the 1850 lateral moraines, which are the main research focus.

Turtmann 2

Panorama

Overview of the study area: Glacier forefield with reservoir, panorama of Little Ice Age lateral moraine system.

 

Methods

  • Permanent plot surveys (50 plots) on lateral moraine slopes 
  • Geomorphic and vegetation mapping (lateral moraine slopes, turf-banked solifluction lobes)
  • Investigation of plant traits (Dryas octopetala L.)
  • UAV missions (in cooperation with the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn)
  • Geoelectrics (Electrical Resistivity Tomography; in cooperation with D. Draebing, Bonn)
  • Soil sampling and analysis (in cooperation with N. Meyer, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, University of Bonn)

 

 UAV

UAV mission of the lateral moraine slopes

 ERT

Electrical Resistivity Tomography on a turf-banked solifluction lobe

 

Publications

Peer-reviewed

  • Eichel, J. (accepted): Chapter 7.2: Vegetation succession and biogeomorphic interactions in glacier forelands. In: Heckmann, T. & D. Morche (eds): Geomorphology of proglacial systems - Landform and sediment dynamics in recently deglaciated alpine landscapes.
  • Eichel, J., Draebing, D., Klingbeil, L., Wieland, M., Eling, C., Schmidtlein, S., Kuhlmann, H. & R. Dikau (2017): Solifluction meets vegetation: the role of biogeomorphic feedbacks for turf-banked solifluction lobe development. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4102
  • Draebing, D. & J. Eichel (2017): Spatial controls on turf-banked solifluction lobes and their role for paraglacial adjustment in glacier forelands. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 28, 2, p. 446 - 459. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.1930
  • Eichel, J., Corenblit, D. u. R. Dikau (2016): Conditions for feedbacks between geomorphic and vegetation dynamics on lateral moraine slopes: a biogeomorphic feedback window. In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 41, p. 406 - 419. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3859
  • Eichel, J., Krautblatter, M., Schmidtlein, S. & R.Dikau (2013): Biogeomorphic interactions in the Turtmann glacier forefield, Switzerland. In: Geomorphology 201, p. 98 - 110. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.06.012

International conference abstracts

  • Eichel, J., Draebing, D., Wieland, M., Eling, C., Klingbeil, L., Schmidtlein, S., Kuhlmann, H. & R. Dikau (2016): Bridging periglacial geomorpholohy and ecology: a conceptual model of turf-banked solifluction lobe development; talk at the International Conference on Permafrost 2016, Potsdam, Germany.
  • Eichel, J., Meyer, N., Draebing, D., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2016): Controls on small-scale biogeomorphic interactions on lateral moraine slopes and their linkage to large-scale geomorphic and vegetation patterns. In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 18, EGU2016-1860.
  • Draebing, D. & J. Eichel (2016): Controlling factors of turf-banked solifluction lobe evolution in the Turtmann glacier forefield, Switzerland.  In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 18, EGU2016-479.
  • Eichel, J., Corenblit, D., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2015): Linking plant traits to a geomorphic disturbance gradient: the biogeomorphic window concept for lateral moraines; talk at the 58th Annual Symposion of the International Association for Vegetation Science: Understanding broad-scale vegetation patterns; July 2015, Brno, Czech Republic.
  • Eichel, J., Draebing, D., Wieland, M., Eling, C., Klingbeil, L. & R. Dikau (2015): Feedbacks between vegetation and solifluction processes on hillslopes: case study of an alpine turf-banked solifluction lobe In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 17, EGU2015-1738. 
  • Eichel, J., Corenblit, D. & R. Dikau (2015): The role of feedbacks between geomorphic and vegetation dynamics for lateral moraine slope configuration and development In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 17, EGU2015-1970. 
  • Eibisch, K., Eichel, J. u. R. Dikau (2015): Root tensile strength assessment of Dryas octopetala L. and implications for its engineering mechanism on lateral moraine slopes (Turtmann Valley, Switzerland) In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 17, EGU2015.
  • Eichel, J., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2014): Interactions between solifluction processes and vegetation on lateral moraines in the Turtmann glacier forefield (Switzerland). 4th European Conference on Permafrost, June 2014, Evóra, Portugal. (Winner of the PYRN-IPA Poster Award)
  • Eichel, J., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2014): Biogeomorphic interactions and patterns on Little Ice Age lateral moraines. In: Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 16, EGU2014-826, 2014. (Winner of the EGU Geomorphology Division Outstanding student poster (OSP) award)
  • Eichel, J., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2013): Paraglacial adjustment and vegetation succession in the forefield of an actively retreating glacier - a biogeomorphological perspective. 8th IAG International Conference on Geomorphology, August 2013, Paris.
  • Eichel, J., Schmidtlein, S. & R. Dikau (2013): Investigating biogeomorphic dynamics in the forefield of an actively retreating alpine glacier In: Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 15, EGU2013-6036, 2013; EGU General Assembly 2013.

 

Contact Information

Prof. Dr. Richard Dikau (Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Germany)

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schmidtlein (Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)

Dr. Jana Eichel (Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)

 

Cooperations

  • Dr. Dov Corenblit (Équipe ‘Dynamiques géoenvironnementales actuelles’, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France)
  • Dr. Daniel Draebing (Bonn)
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heiner Kuhlmann, M.Sc. Christian Eling, Dr. Lasse Klingbeil and Dipl.-Ing. Markus Wieland (Institute for Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Krautblatter (Monitoring, Analysis and Early Warning of Landslides, Technical University Munich, Germany)
  • M.Sc. Nele Meyer (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, University of Bonn, Germany) 
  • Priv.-Doz. Dr. Bodo Maria Möseler (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation University of Bonn, Germany)

 

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