Mid-winter rapid rise of temperature in the vicinity of Arctowski Station, King George Island (West Antarctica) was studied in 1991. Depending on circumantarctic migration of cyclones, sudden drop in air pressure and foehn-like phenomenon intensified by local topography occurred. Two such events are described on May 13 and June 28, against meteorological conditions during autumn and winter. Extreme intensification of morphogenetic processes caused degradation of a snow cover, immense meltwater discharge, radical transformation of slopes, effective aeolian activity and dynamic modifications in a sea-shore zone.
Properties of a snow cover in the vicinity of Arctowski Station, King George Island (West Antarctica) were studied in 1991. Variations of snow quality and physical transformations were analysed against changes of atmospheric parameters, basing on water equivalent index and repeatable examination of snow pits. Essential dependence of snow cover distribution and snow structure from local climatic features and terrain morphology was found. Thawing occurs in the whole mass of snow, with its contribution of both liquid and gas water phases.
Vegetation succession in front of five retreating glaciers was studied using phytosociological relevés (60) located at different distances between the Little Ice Age (LIA) moraines and the present glacier fronts around Petunia Bay. Approximate dating of succession stages was based on a study of the changing position of glacier fronts in the past approximately 100 years. The described succession corresponds to the uni−directional, non−replacement model of succession. All constituent species, except one, present in the nearby old tundra have colonized the glacier forelands since the end of the LIA. The first species appeared about 5 years after deglaciation. The latest succession stages closely resemble the old tundra.
Textural properties and microstructures are commonly used properties in the analysis of Pleistocene and older glacial deposits. However, contemporary glacial deposits are seldom studied, particularly in the context of post-depositional changes. This paper presents the results of a micromorphological study of recently deposited tills in the marginal zones of Hansbreen and Torellbreen, glaciers in southwestern Spitsbergen. The main objectives of this study were to compare modern tills deposited in subglacial and supraglacial conditions, as well as tills that were freshly released from ice with those laid down several decades ago. The investigated tills are primarily composed of large clasts of metamorphic rocks and represent coarse-grained, matrix-supported diamictons. The tills reveal several characteristic features for ductile (e.g. turbate structures) and brittle (e.g. lineations, microshears) deformations, which have been considered to be indicative of subglacial conditions. In supraglacial tills, the same structures are common as in the subglacial deposits, which points to the preservation of the primary features, though the sediment was transferred up to the glacier surface due to basal ice layer deformation and redeposited as slumps, or to formation of similar structures due to short-distance sediment re-deposition by mass flows. This study revealed that it might not be possible to distinguish subglacial and supraglacial tills on the basis of micromorphology if the latter are derived from a subglacial position. The only noted difference was the presence of iron oxide cementation zones and carbonate dissolution features in supraglacial tills. These features were found in tills that were deposited at least a few years ago and are interpreted to be induced by early post-depositional processes involving porewater/sediment interactions.