27 Jan 2022
27 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

The Effects of Late Cenozoic Climate Change on the Global Distribution of Frost Cracking

Hemanti Sharma, Sebastian G. Mutz, and Todd A. Ehlers Hemanti Sharma et al.
  • Department of Geosciences, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, 72076, Germany

Abstract. Frost cracking is a dominant mechanical weathering phenomenon facilitating the breakdown of bedrock in periglacial regions. Despite recent advances in understanding frost cracking processes, few studies have addressed how global climate change over the Late Cenozoic may have impacted spatial variations in frost cracking intensity. In this study, we estimate global changes in frost cracking intensity (FCI) by segregation ice growth. Existing process-based models of FCI are applied in combination with soil thickness data from the Harmonized World Soil Database. Temporal and spatial variations in FCI are predicted using surface temperatures changes obtained from ECHAM5 general circulation model simulations conducted for four different paleoclimate time-slices. Time-slices considered include Pre-Industrial (~1850 CE, PI), Mid-Holocene (~6 ka, MH), Last Glacial Maximum (~21 ka, LGM) and Pliocene (~3 Ma, PLIO) times. Results indicate for all paleoclimate time slices that frost cracking was most prevalent (relative to PI times) in the mid to high latitude regions, as well as high-elevation lower latitudes areas such the Himalayas, Tibet, European Alps, the Japanese Alps, the USA Rocky Mountains, and the Andes Mountains. The smallest deviations in frost cracking (relative to PI conditions) were observed in the MH simulation, which yielded slightly higher FCI values in most of the areas. In contrast, larger deviations were observed in the simulations of the colder climate (LGM) and warmer climate (PLIO). Our results indicate that the impact of climate change on frost cracking was most severe during the PI – LGM period due to higher differences in temperatures and glaciation at higher latitudes. In contrast, the PLIO results indicate low FCI in the Andes and higher values of FCI in Greenland and Canada due to the diminished extent of glaciation in the warmer PLIO climate.

Hemanti Sharma et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-78', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Hemanti Sharma, 15 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2021-78', Anonymous Referee #2, 11 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Hemanti Sharma, 15 Apr 2022
  • AC3: 'Comment on esurf-2021-78', Hemanti Sharma, 15 Apr 2022

Hemanti Sharma et al.

Hemanti Sharma et al.


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Short summary
We estimate global changes in frost cracking intensity (FCI) using existing process-based models for four time-slices in Late Cenozoic ranging from Pliocene (~3 Ma) to Pre-Industrial (~1850 CE, PI). Results indicate for all time-slices, FCI was most prevalent in mid to high latitudes, and high elevation lower latitude areas such as Himalayas. Larger deviations (relative to PI) were observed in colder climate (LGM) and warmer climate (Pliocene) due to differences in temperature and glaciation.