Original paper

Reconstruction of modern debris flow activity in the arctic environment with the use of dwarf shrubs (south-western Spitsbergen) – (south-western Spitsbergen) a new dendrochronological approach

Owczarek, Piotr; Latocha, Agnieszka; Wistuba, Małgorzata; Malik, Ireneusz


The aim of the paper is to show the potential of tundra dwarf shrubs in dendrochronological reconstructions of debris flow activity in the High Arctic. The preliminary studies with the use of Salix polaris and Salix reticulata in dating debris flow activity were conducted on selected study sites in the south-western Spitsbergen. Wood anatomy characteristics of shrubs, such as: the number of growth rings in collected specimens, the presence reaction wood and scars were evaluated for their potential in temporal reconstructions in geomorphology. The age of dwarf shrubs can be determined by counting the number of growth rings on cross sections of wooden stems. Cross sections were made on the border between branch systems and roots. The age of shrubs studied indirectly mark the minimal time, which passed since the last episode of debris flow on the studied surface. Analyses of reaction wood and scars can only support the dating of debris flows, because these anatomic features can also be developed as results of snow creeping or animal activities. There is a possibility of dating the periods of intensification in debris flow activity with the use of dendrochronology and dwarf shrubs, and with the one-year precision. The comparison of the time of debris flow occurrence with meteorological data, may, in future, allow determining the conditions of debris flow development in the High Arctic.


debris flowsdendrochronologydwarf shrubssalix polarissalix reticulataspitsbergentalus conesthe high arcticwood anatomy