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TitleGeomorphic systems of the Palliser Triangle, southern Canadian Prairies: description and response to changing climate
AuthorLemmen, D S; Vance, R E; Campbell, I A; David, P P; Pennock, D J; Sauchyn, D J; Wolfe, S A
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Bulletin 521, 1998, 72 pages (1 sheet), (Open Access)
LinksPalliser Triangle Global Change Project
LinksLe Projet sur le changement à l'échelle planétaire dans le triangle de Palliser
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
MapsPublication contains 2 maps
Map Info.surficial geology, lithology, 1:3,000,000
Map Info.soils, soil types, 1:3,000,000
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceSaskatchewan; Alberta
NTS72E; 72F; 72G; 72H; 72J; 72K; 72L; 82G/01; 82G/08; 82G/09; 82G/16; 82H; 82I; 82J/01; 82J/08; 82J/09; 82J/16
AreaMedicine Hat; Cypress Hills; Swift Current; South Saskatchewan River
Lat/Long WENS-112.5000 -104.0000 51.0000 49.0000
Subjectsenvironmental geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; soils science; Nature and Environment; climatic fluctuations; climate; erosion; landslides; mass wasting; soils; vegetation; landforms; tills; glaciofluvial deposits; glaciolacustrine deposits; eolian deposits; loess; dunes; drainage systems; glacial deposits; Quaternary
Illustrationscross-sections; aerial photographs; photographs; sketch maps; analyses
Released1998 11 01; 2014 01 15
AbstractThe Palliser Triangle of southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan is characterized by a variable climate, strong annual moisture deficit, and recurrent drought. Geomorphic systems in such environments are often sensitive to even minor changes in climate. Since climate changes in the twenty-first century are expected to include more frequent drought, geomorphic systems are likely to be affected in ways that threaten sustainable activities in some areas.
This review considers four geomorphic systems: eolian, fluvial, mass wasting, and soil redistribution. Soil redistribution integrates a number of lower-level systems, and is of greatest importance with respect to sustainable land management. A qualitative assessment of the potential impacts of four climate change scenarios on each of these geomorphic systems indicates the following:
1. Eolian landscapes are the most sensitive to climatic variability, with the region lying near the threshold of extensive eolian activity.
2. Fluvial systems are the least predictable in terms of response to climate change.
3. Climate influences the frequency of mass wasting processes by modifying the regional groundwater table and determining antecedent moisture conditions.
4. The principal agents of soil redistribution are wind, water, and tillage. Both wind and water erosion are closely related to extreme climatic events. Human activities remain the most critical factors influencing agricultural soils.
Identification of possible responses to climate change sets the stage for proactive land management: facilitating rapid adaptation or implementation of mitigation procedures when reliable, long-term regional climatic projections are available, or when trends can be clearly defined through monitoring.