Surface kinematics of periglacial sorted circles using Structure-from-Motion technology
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Cryosphere Discussions 2014, 7:6043-6074 10.5194/tcd-7-6043-2013
Sorted soil circles are a conspicuous form of periglacial patterned ground. Numerical modelling suggests that these features develop from a convection-like circulation of material in the active layer of permafrost. The related iterative burying and resurfacing of material is believed to play an important role in the soil carbon cycle of high latitudes. The connection of sorted circles to permafrost conditions and its changes over time make these ground forms to a potential paleoclimatic indicator. In this study we apply the photogrammetric Structure-from-Motion technology (SfM) to large sets of overlapping terrestrial photos taken in Augusts 2007 and 2010 over three sorted circles at Kvadehuksletta, Western Spitsbergen. We retrieve repeat digital elevation models (DEMs) and orthoimages with millimetre-resolution and accuracy. Changes in microrelief over the three years are obtained from DEM-differencing and horizontal displacement fields from tracking features between the orthoimages. In the inner domains of the circles, consisting of fines, material moves radially outside with horizontal surface speeds of up to 2 cm yr−1. The outer circle ridges consist of coarse stones that displace towards the inner circle domain at similar rates. A number of substantial deviations from this overall radial symmetry, both in horizontal displacements and in microrelief, shed new light on the potential spatio-temporal evolution of sorted soil circles, and periglacial patterned ground in general.