Volume XIV |

Near surface thermal characteristics of alpine steep rockwalls in the Retezat Mountains

Abstract: The characteristics of the near surface thermal regime of two rockwalls with different aspect in the Retezat Mountains were investigated using two miniature thermistors. Three one-year (2012-2013; 2013-2014 and 2014-2015) rock surface temperature time series were available for the north facing rockwall, whereas only two seasons were analyzed for the south facing rockwall. The mean annual rock surface temperature (MARST) values were with 1.5-2°C colder on the northern rockwall compared with the southern steep bedrock face. Due to long daily exposure to sunshine, the south facing rockwall experienced more diurnal freeze-thaw cycles during the cold season compared to the north facing rockwall. Overall, the thermistor with a southern aspect recorded 40 and 55 more freeze-thaw cycles than the northern one. A greater number of effective freeze-thaw cycles were measured on the south facing rockwall. The maximum daily amplitude on the southern rockwall is three times higher than on the north-facing location (39.1°C compared to 13.6°C). Based on our findings it seems that the MARST values recorded on the shaded face of the steep bedrock suggest a quite likely absence of permafrost, whereas the MARST values at TPR indicate a quite certain absence of permafrost.