14 Jul 2022
14 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Multi-hazard susceptibility mapping of cryospheric hazards in a high-Arctic environment: Svalbard Archipelago

Ionut Cristi Nicu1,2, Letizia Elia3, Lena Rubensdotter4,5, Hakan Tanyas6, and Luigi Lombardo6 Ionut Cristi Nicu et al.
  • 1High North Department, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), Fram Centre, N-9296, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5042, Australia
  • 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat 6/2, 40127 Bologna, Italy
  • 4Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), P.O. Box 6315 Torgarden, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • 5Arctic Geology Department, The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), P.O. Box 156, 9171, Longyearbyen, Norway
  • 6Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, PO Box 217, Enschede, AE 7500, Netherlands

Abstract. The Svalbard Archipelago represents the northernmost place on Earth where cryospheric hazards, such as thaw slumps (TS) and thermo-erosion gullies (TEG) could take place and rapidly develop under the influence of climatic variations. Svalbard permafrost is specifically sensitive to rapidly occurring warming and therefore, a deeper understanding of TS and TEG is necessary to understand and foresee the dynamics behind local cryospheric hazards' occurrences and their global implications. We present the latest update of two polygonal inventories where the extent of TS and TEG is recorded across Nordenskiöld Land (Svalbard Archipelago), over a surface of approximately 4000 km2. This area was chosen because it represents the most concentrated ice-free area of the Svalbard Archipelago and, at the same time, where most of the current human settlements are concentrated. The inventories were created through visual interpretation of high-resolution aerial photographs, as part of our ongoing effort toward creating a pan-Arctic repository of TS and TEG. Overall, we mapped 562 TS and 908 TEG, from which we separately generated two susceptibility maps using a Generalized Additive Modelling (GAM) approach, under the assumption that TS and TEG manifest across Nordenskiöld Land, according to a Bernoulli probability distribution. Once validating the modelling results, the two susceptibility patterns were combined into the first multi-hazard cryospheric susceptibility map of the area. The two inventories are available for the whole community at (Nicu et al., 2022a) and (Nicu et al., 2022b).

Ionut Cristi Nicu et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-228', Jan Kavan, 17 Aug 2022 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ionut Cristi Nicu, 19 Oct 2022 reply

Ionut Cristi Nicu et al.

Data sets

Thermo-erosion gullies inventory of Nordenskiöld Land (Svalbard Archipelago) Nicu, I. C.; Rubensdotter, L.; Lombardo, L.

Model code and software

Thaw slump inventory of Nordenskiöld Land (Svalbard Archipelago) Nicu, I. C.; Rubensdotter, L.; Lombardo, L.

Ionut Cristi Nicu et al.


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Short summary
Thaw slumps and thermo-erosion gullies are cryospheric hazards that are widely encountered in Nordenskiöld Land, the largest and most compact ice-free area of Svalbard Archipelago. By statistically analysing the landscape characteristics of locations where these processes occurred, we can estimate where they may occur in the future. We mapped 562 thaw slumps and 908 thermo-erosion gullies and used them to create the first multi-hazard susceptibility map in a high-Arctic environment.