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Of ice and water: Quaternary fluvial response to glacial forcing

Cordier, S and Adamson, K and Delmas, M and Calvet, M and Harmand, D (2017) Of ice and water: Quaternary fluvial response to glacial forcing. Quaternary Science Reviews, 166. pp. 57-73. ISSN 0277-3791

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Abstract

Much research, especially within the framework of the Fluvial Archives Group, has focused on river response to climate change in mid-latitude non-glaciated areas, but research into the relationships between Quaternary glacial and fluvial dynamics remains sparse. Understanding glacialefluvial interactions is important because glaciers are able to influence river behaviour significantly, especially during glacial and deglacial periods: (1) when they are located downstream of a pre-existing fluvial system and disrupt its activity, leading to hydrographical, hydrosedimentary and isostatic adjustments, and (2) when they are located upstream, which is a common scenario in mid-latitude mountains that were glaciated during Pleistocene cold periods. In these instances, glaciers are major water and sediment sources. Their role is particularly significant during deglaciation, when meltwater transfer towards the fluvial system is greatly increased while downstream sediment evacuation is influenced by changes to glacialefluvial connectivity and basin-wide sediment storage. This means that discharge and sediment flux do not always respond simultaneously, which can lead to complex fluvial behaviour involving proglacial erosion and sedimentation and longer-term paraglacial reworking. These processes may vary spatially and temporally according to the position relative to the ice margin (ice-proximal versus icedistal). With a focus on the catchments of Europe, this paper aims to review our understanding of glacial impacts on riversystem behaviour. We examine the methods used to unravel fluvial response to 'glacial forcing', and propose a synthesis of the behaviour of glacially-fed rivers, opening perspectives for further research.

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