Multi-hazard susceptibility mapping of cryospheric hazards in a high-Arctic environment: Svalbard Archipelago

Ionut Nicu, Letizia Elia, Lena Rubensdotter, Hakan Tanyas, Luigi Lombardo

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


The Svalbard Archipelago represents the northernmost place on Earth where cryospheric hazards, such as thaw slumps (TS) and thermo-erosion gullies (TEG) could take place and rapidly develop under the influence of climatic variations. Svalbard permafrost is specifically sensitive to rapidly occurring warming and therefore, a deeper understanding of TS and TEG is necessary to understand and foresee the dynamics behind local cryospheric hazards' occurrences and their global implications. We present the latest update of two polygonal inventories where the extent of TS and TEG is recorded across Nordenskiöld Land (Svalbard Archipelago), over a surface of approximately 4000 km2. This area was chosen because it represents the most concentrated ice-free area of the Svalbard Archipelago and, at the same time, where most of the current human settlements are concentrated. The inventories were created through visual interpretation of high-resolution aerial photographs, as part of our ongoing effort toward creating a pan-Arctic repository of TS and TEG. Overall, we mapped 562 TS and 908 TEG, from which we separately generated two susceptibility maps using a Generalized Additive Modelling (GAM) approach, under the assumption that TS and TEG manifest across Nordenskiöld Land, according to a Bernoulli probability distribution. Once validating the modelling results, the two susceptibility patterns were combined into the first multi-hazard cryospheric susceptibility map of the area. The two inventories are available for the whole community at (Nicu et al., 2022a) and (Nicu et al., 2022b).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCopernicus Publications
Number of pages26
Publication statusSubmitted - 1 Jul 2022


  • cryospheric hazards
  • Svalbard Archipelago
  • climatic variations


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