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Slope hummock development, Fosheim Peninsula, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada

  • Antoni G. Lewkowicz
Abstract

Slope hummocks, a type of nonsorted patterned ground, are composed of stratified, organic, silty sand, and develop through the interaction of niveo-eolian deposition, solifluction, slopewash, and vegetation growth. Fields of hummocks show consistent patterns: forms on convex slopes increase in height downslope until the channel is reached, whereas those on convexo-concave slopes increase on the upper convexity but are buried by niveo-eolian deposition downslope of the snowbank remnant. These trends can be reproduced using a simple numerical model based on measured slope and snow depth profiles, sediment concentrations in the snow and solifluction rates. The model indicates that hummocks transit slopes of 20–40 m in about 2–4 ka, a time-frame that is plausible given site emergence, measured rates of solifluction, and published dates for organic horizons within hummocks on northern Ellesmere Island. Sensitivity analyses show that long-term effect of climate warming on hummock heights may differ depending on whether it is accompanied by precipitation increase or decrease. The required combination of two-sided freezing to promote plug-like movement, incomplete vegetation cover and thin snow that enable eolian erosion during winter and spring, and vegetation growth in snow-bed sites to stabilize niveo-eolian deposits may explain why these forms are important regionally but apparently are not present throughout the Arctic.

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Fax: +1 613 562 5145.
E-mail address: alewkowi@uottawa.ca
References
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