Impact of snow gliding on soil redistribution for a sub-alpine area in Switzerland

Meusburger, Katrin and Leitinger, G. and Mabit, L. and Mueller, Matthias Heidulf and Alewell, Christine. (2013) Impact of snow gliding on soil redistribution for a sub-alpine area in Switzerland. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 10 (7). pp. 9505-9531.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/89380/

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The aim of this study is to assess the importance of snow gliding as soil erosion agent for four different land use/land cover types in a sub-alpine area in Switzerland. The 14 investigated sites are located close to the valley bottom at approximately 1500 m a.s.l., while the elevation of the surrounding mountain ranges is about 2500 m a.s.l. We used two different approaches to estimate soil erosion rates: the fallout radionuclide 137Cs and the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). The RUSLE model is suitable to estimate soil loss by water erosion, while the 137Cs method integrates soil loss due to all erosion agents involved. Thus, we hypothesise that the soil erosion rates determined with the 137Cs method are higher and that the observed discrepancy between the erosion rate of RUSLE and the 137Cs method is related to snow gliding. Cumulative snow glide distance was measured for the sites in the winter 2009/2010 and modelled for the surrounding area with the Spatial Snow Glide Model (SSGM). Measured snow glide distance range from 0 to 189 cm with lower values for the north exposed slopes. We observed a reduction of snow glide distance with increasing surface roughness of the vegetation, which is an important information with respect to conservation planning and expected land use changes in the Alps. Our hypothesis was confirmed, the difference of RUSLE and 137Cs erosion rates was correlated to the measured snow glide distance (R2 = 0.73; p < 0.005). A high difference (lower proportion of water erosion compared to total net erosion) was observed for high snow glide rates and vice versa. The SSGM reproduced the relative difference of the measured snow glide values between different land use/land cover types. The resulting map highlights the relevance of snow gliding for large parts of the investigated area. Based on these results, we conclude that snow gliding is a key process impacting soil erosion pattern and magnitude in sub-alpine areas with similar topographic and climatic conditions.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Di Bella, Katrin and Alewell, Christine and Müller, Matthias Heidulf
Item Type:Article
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:06 Sep 2022 09:31
Deposited On:06 Sep 2022 09:31

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