Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Environmental factors affecting the occurrence of periglacial landforms in Finnish Lapland: a numerical approach

Jan Hjort

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Geography.

Determination of the environmental factors controlling earth surface processes and landform patterns is one of the central themes in physical geography. However, the identification of the main drivers of the geomorphological phenomena is often challenging. Novel spatial analysis and modelling methods could provide new insights into the process-environment relationships. The objective of this research was to map and quantitatively analyse the occurrence of cryogenic phenomena in subarctic Finland. More precisely, utilising a grid-based approach the distribution and abundance of periglacial landforms were modelled to identify important landscape scale environmental factors.

The study was performed using a comprehensive empirical data set of periglacial landforms from an area of 600 km2 at a 25-ha resolution. The utilised statistical methods were generalized linear modelling (GLM) and hierarchical partitioning (HP). GLMs were used to produce distribution and abundance models and HP to reveal independently the most likely causal variables. The GLM models were assessed utilising statistical evaluation measures, prediction maps, field observations and the results of HP analyses.

A total of 40 different landform types and subtypes were identified. Topographical, soil property and vegetation variables were the primary correlates for the occurrence and cover of active periglacial landforms on the landscape scale. In the model evaluation, most of the GLMs were shown to be robust although the explanation power, prediction ability as well as the selected explanatory variables varied between the models.

The great potential of the combination of a spatial grid system, terrain data and novel statistical techniques to map the occurrence of periglacial landforms was demonstrated in this study. GLM proved to be a useful modelling framework for testing the shapes of the response functions and significances of the environmental variables and the HP method helped to make better deductions of the important factors of earth surface processes. Hence, the numerical approach presented in this study can be a useful addition to the current range of techniques available to researchers to map and monitor different geographical phenomena.

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Last updated 26.04.2006

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