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Topographic and ground-ice controls on shallow landsliding in thawing Arctic permafrost

Mithan, H. T., Hales, T. C. ORCID: and Cleall, P. J. ORCID: 2021. Topographic and ground-ice controls on shallow landsliding in thawing Arctic permafrost. Geophysical Research Letters 48 (13) , e2020GL092264. 10.1029/2020GL092264

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An increase in Arctic shallow landsliding is a potential consequence of climate warming. Warmer summer-air temperatures and larger rainfall events drive heat into the active layer, melting ice and decreasing soil shear stress. Topography has the potential to exacerbate landsliding by controlling the distribution of ground ice and the movement of water in the subsurface. We demonstrate that shallow Arctic landslides initiate in zero-order drainage basins consistent with models of shallow landsliding in non-permafrost environments. However, the low average slopes and low concavity of Arctic hillslopes cannot create pore-water pressures high enough to generate landsliding. Instead, two-dimensional slope stability modeling suggests that the vertical distribution of ground-ice distributions controls landslide susceptibility. High ground-ice concentrations close to the potential failure plane act as a stronger control than high average ice volumes or rapid thawing. Our results demonstrate that landslide susceptibility is strongly affected by topographic controls on ground ice and hydrology.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0094-8276
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 1 June 2021
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 10:41

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