Bessanese high-elevation experimental site - Italy
Bessanese high-elevation experimental site
The Bessanese experimental site is located in the Western European Alps (municipality of Balme, Italy). This site is representative of the glacial and periglacial environments of the Alps. In this site, glaciers have been the main morphogenetic agent: the head of the basin hosts a well-developed glacial cirque, while the LIA has left an imposing moraine on the left side of the glacier as an indelible mark in the landscape. Additional cryogenic and atmospheric processes, running waters and gravity have contributed to shape the study area. These latter processes are becoming more and more important, compared to glacier shaping, in the present context of climate change, which led to an impressive-areal and volume reduction of the glacier. Most of the area once occupied by the glacier is now covered with debris which, in many cases, is ice-cored, or contains ice lenses. Downstream of the main lake of the basin, located at an elevation of about 2580 m, the debris forms a large and characteristic rock glacier. Among gravitative processes, rockfalls are particularly common and relevant from the hazard point of view in the study area.
General Characteristics, Purpose, History
Increase knowledge about the relationships between climate variability and morphodynamic processes in the glacial/periglacial environments, in a context of climate change. In particular: 1) Study rock temperature variability, by means of sensors with known measurement uncertainty; 2) Study the relationships between the main climatic elements and rock temperature, in order to develop heat transfer models in different lithotypes; 3) Monitoring the rock glacier evolution, through the acquisition of detailed digital terrain models by UAV; 4) Monitoring the evolution of the Bessanese glacier; 5) Carry out training activities for young students and researchers.
The Bessanese high-elevation experimental site started its activities in 2016, thanks to the start of some research projects. Through these research projects it was possible to acquire an important amount of data and information prior to 2016. For example: 1) Climate data starting from 1989; 2) Data and information on the extent of the Bessanese glacier starting from the end of the LIA (about 1850); 3) Data and information on the main natural instability processes starting from 1956.