EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying long-term sediment dynamics of a proglacial river in an alpine catchment 

Livia Piermattei1, Tobias Heckmann2, Moritz Altmann2, Sarah Betz-Nutz2, Fabian Fleischer2, Florian Haas2, Norbert Pfeifer3, Camillo Ressl3, Jakob Rom2, and Michael Becht2
Livia Piermattei et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway (
  • 2Physical Geography, University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Eichstätt, Germany
  • 3Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TUWien, Wien, Austria

Alpine rivers have experienced considerable changes in channel morphology over the last century. The main problem of current studies is the lack of information over a longer period. In order to reliably assess the magnitude of the channel change processes and/or their frequencies due to recent climate change, the investigation period needs to be extended to the last century, ideally back to the end of the Little Ice Age. In addition, a high temporal resolution is required to account for the history of changes in channel morphology and for better detection and interpretation of related processes.

The increasing availability of digitized historical aerial images, together with advances in digital photogrammetry, provides the basis for reconstructing and assessing the long-term evolution of the surface, both in terms of mapping of historic planimetric position and generation of historical digital elevation models (DEMs). We use photogrammetric analysis of recent and historical images, together with LiDAR and drone-based photogrammetric DEMs, to quantify channel changes and the net sediment balance of a main alpine river in a glaciated catchment (Kaunertal, Austria) over nineteen periods from 1953 to 2019. Based on DEMs of difference, we estimate the spatio-temporal patterns of erosion and deposition. We show that geomorphic changes are mainly driven by deglaciation, i.e. glacier retreat, and sediment delivery from recently deglaciated steep lateral moraines, and from extreme runoff events. Overall, this work contributes to better understanding the main factors influencing river changes and the links between channel changes and climatic factors.

How to cite: Piermattei, L., Heckmann, T., Altmann, M., Betz-Nutz, S., Fleischer, F., Haas, F., Pfeifer, N., Ressl, C., Rom, J., and Becht, M.: Quantifying long-term sediment dynamics of a proglacial river in an alpine catchment , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8589,, 2022.

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