Climatic Change, 2010, Vol.103(3), pp.571-595
Efforts to predict responses to climate change and to interpret modern or paleoclimate indicators are influenced by several levels of potential amplifiers, which increase or exaggerate climate impacts, and/or filters, which reduce or mute impacts. With respect to geomorphic responses and indicators, climate forcings are partly mediated by ecological, hydrological, and other processes which may amplify or filter impacts on surface processes and landforms. Then, geomorphic responses themselves may be threshold-dominated or dynamically unstable, producing disproportionately large and long-lived responses to climate changes or disturbances. Or, responses may be dynamically stable, whereby resistance or resilience of geomorphic systems minimizes the effects of changes. Thus a given geomorphic response to climate could represent (at least) two levels of amplification and/or filtering. An example is given for three fluvial systems in Kentucky, U.S.A, the Kentucky, Green, and Big South Fork Rivers. Climate impacts in the early Quaternary were amplified by glacially-driven reorganization of the ancestral Ohio River system to the North, and by dynamical instability in the down-cutting response of rivers incising plateau surfaces. Effects of more recent climate changes, however, have been filtered to varying extents. Using alluvial terraces as an example, the study rivers show distinctly different responses to climate forcings. The lower Green River has extensive, well-developed terraces recording several episodes of aggradation and downcutting, while the Big South Fork River has no alluvial terraces. The Kentucky River is intermediate, with limited preservation of relatively recent terraces. The differences can be explained in terms of differences among the rivers in (1) filtering effects of constraints on fluvial responses imposed by strongly incised, steep-walled bedrock controlled valleys; and (2) amplifier effects of periodic damming of lower river reaches by glaciofluvial outwash.
Climate Change -- Research ; Geomorphology -- Research ; Rivers -- Environmental Aspects;
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