HIGH-RESOLUTION MONITORING OF CURRENT RAPID TRANSFORMATIONS ON GLACIAL AND PERIGLACIAL ENVIRONMENTS
Glacial and periglacial environments are highly sensitive to climatic changes. Processes of cryosphere degradation may strongly impact human activities and infrastructures, and need to be monitored for improved understanding and for mitigation/adaptation. Studying glacial and periglacial environments using traditional techniques may be difficult or not feasible, but new remote sensing techniques like terrestrial and aerial laser scanner opened new possibilities for cryospheric studies. This work presents an application of the terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) for monitoring the current rapid changes occurring on the Montasio Occidentale glacier (Eastern Italian alps), which is representative of low-altitude, avalanche-fed and debris-cover glaciers. These glaciers are quite common in the Alps but their reaction to climate changes is still poorly known. The mass balance, surface velocity fields, debris cover dynamics and effects of meteorological extremes were investigated by repeat high-resolution TLS scanning from September 2010 to October 2012. The results were encouraging and shed light on the peculiar response of this glacier to climatic changes, on its current dynamics and on the feedback played by the debris cover, which is critical for its preservation. The rapid transformations in act, combined with the unstable ice mass, large amount of loose debris and channeled runoff during intense rainfalls, constitute a potential area for the formation of large debris flows, as shown by field evidences and documented by the recent literature.