Hørbyebreen surged in the 19th or early 20th century, as suggested by geomorphological evidences and looped medial moraines. In this study, we investigate its wide−spread geometry changes and geodetic mass balance with 1960 contour lines, 1990 and 2009 digital elevation models, in order to define the present−day state of the glacier. We also study its thermal structure from ground−penetrating radar data. Little is known about the glacier behaviour in the first part of the 20th century, but from its surge maximum until 1960 it has been retreating and losing its area. In the period 1960–1990, fast frontal thinning (2–3 m a −1 ) and a slow mass build−up in the higher zones (~0.15 m a −1 ) have been noted, resulting in generally negative mass balance (−0.40 ± 0.07 m w. eq. a −1 ). In the last studied period 1990–2009, the glacier showed an acceleration of mass loss (−0.64 m ± 0.07 w. eq. a −1 ) and no build−up was observed anymore. We conclude that Hørbyebreen system under present climate will not surge anymore and relate this behaviour to a considerable increase in summer temperature on Svalbard after 1990. Radar soundings indicate that the studied glacial system is polythermal, with temperate ice below 100–130 m depth. It has therefore not (or not yet) switched to cold−bedded, as has been suggested in previous works for some small Svalbard surge−type glaciers in a negative mass balance mode.
Three types of rock glaciers (moraine, cirque and subslope ones) were distinguished in northwestern Wedel Jarlsberg Land. Subslope rock glaciers were found different from nival moraines. A development of subslope and fossil cirque rock glaciers was connected with the older Holocene whereas of active cirque and moraine rock glaciers with the Little Ice Age.
Movement is one of the most spectacular phenomena involving glaciers. Deter- mining glacier surface velocity is now a routine aspect of glaciological studies. These are geodetic methods, especially satellite positioning, that most frequently is applied in such work. Using the Hans Glacier (SW Spitsbergen) as an example, the presented paper is an attempt at defining the time resolution limit of changes in the velocity determined using GPS positioning technology. A test network was established in the area of the examined glacier in order to define the size and variability of the main satellite positioning biases as well as to define their impact on determining position and the calculated velocity. A discussion relating to achieved accuracy (differentiated from measurement precision) for baselines of a length of several kilometres in the high latitudes has also been presented.
Spitsbergen glaciers react rapidly to changes in the polar environment, which is expressed in differences in extent of their fronts and surface geometry. The Scott Glacier, which is situated in the NW part of Wedel Jarlsberg Land, is an example of the glacier that has undergone almost continuous recession since the Little Ice Age, interrupted by surges. The variations in recession are characterised based on multiannual data with particularly consideration of the period 1990–2005 and the season 2005/2006. Acceleration of front recession and lowering the surface was found only within the tongue up to a height of about 220 m a.s.l. Whereas, in the area situated in the zone of rock steps and above in the ablation zone, the change of glacier surface ablation (Dh) has been recorded compared to the mean annual recession for the period 1990–2005. Moreover, for the upper firn field, the positive surface ablation (DhS7 = +0.19 m) was observed. As the result of progressive reduction of the Scott Glacier mass, with the participation of other factors (bedrock relief among others), new surfaces of roche moutonnée are uncovering particularly in the tongue zone.
Although the terrestrial marginal zones of some glaciers on Spitsbergen are relatively well described, we are largely ignorant about the morphology of their submarine forefields. Initial reconnaissance of the forefields of the Aavatsmark and Dahl glaciers in the Kaffiøyra region and soundings made in that of the Hans Glacier (southern Spitsbergen ) indicate the occurrence of sea-floor push-moraines which can be as much as 3 m high. Their lateral separation is considered to denote annual recession rates. They appear to result from cyclical annual advances of ice-cliffs during winters when the deposits are risen up at the contact of the ice with the sea-floor. The development of the major forms may be related to surge. There is some evidence that certain elements in the sea-bed morphology date from the Little Ice Age (LIA).
The radar device for measurement of thickness and structure of "warm" glaciers was used in this work. The measurement of thickness of dielectric is based here on the examination of transit time of hight frequency electromagnetic pulse throught the measured stratum. A total ice volume of "warm" glaciers is in the melting temperature here. Such glaciers are characterized by a large number of internal structure defects. The electromagnetic wave reflections are caused not only b the glacier base but, additionally by ice crevasses, more imbided water layers and by all other defects of the internal glacier structure, too. The simple statistical method was elaborated for differentiation of essential layers reflections from random reglections caused by less extented objects. This method was used to obtain the two transversal profiles of the Hans Glacier (South Spitsbergen).
Traditional mass balance measurements by stake readings and snow surveying have been conducted annually since 1996 on the Waldemar Glacier (= Waldemarbreen) in northwest Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Several indirect methods were also used for estimating its mass balance. These methods were divided into two major groups: climatological and geodetic. A comparison of the latest map (2000) with that of 1978 and climatological records enable us to calculate the change in the mass balance of Waldemarbreen over 34 years. These methods include air temperature and degree-day (PDD) models. The average mass balance of Waldemarbreen, computed by climatological methods, was -0.42 m a-1 of water equivalent (w.e.) for the period 1970-2004, and -0.51 m w.e. for 1996-2004. These balances were compared with the glaciological balance for the period 1996-2004, -0.53 m w.e.. The mass balance was also computed using geodetic method, giving -0.52 m of w.e. from 1978 to 2000. It is suggested that, from these results, the approach used for Waldemarbreen might be also useful for estimation the mass balances of other small Svalbard glaciers which terminate on land.
The rapidly changing Arctic provides excellent opportunities for investigating primary succession on freshly deglaciated areas. Research on the Gåsbreen foreland (S Spitsbergen) traced the succession of particular groups of organisms and species, particularly lichens and bryophytes, and determined the effect of selected abiotic factors on this succession. Fieldwork in 2008, employed a continuous linear transect of phytosociological relevés (1 m2) along the foreland. Data analysis allowed to distinguish five different succession stages and three types of colonisers. Canonical correspondence analysis and a permutation test showed that distance from the front of the glacier and fine grain material in the substrate mostly influenced the distribution and abundance of vegetation, and the steepness of the moraine hills affected the colonisation process, mainly in the older part of the marginal zone.
The near-surface ice thermal structure of the Waldemarbreen, a 2.5-square km glacier located at 78°N 12°E in Spitsbergen, Svalbard , is described here. Traditional glaciological mass balance measurements by stake readings and snow surveying have been conducted annually since 1996. The near-surface ice temperature was investigated with automatic borehole thermistors in the ablation and accumulation areas in 2007-2008. The mean annual surface ice temperatures (September-June) of the ablation area were determined to be -4.7°C at 1 m depth and -2.5°C at 9 m . For the accumulation area, they were -3.0°C at 2 m , and -2.3°C at 10 m depth between September and August. On the Waldemarbreen, at 10 m depth, the mean annual near-surface ice temperature was 4.0°C above the mean annual air temperature in the accumulation area. The Waldemarbreen may thus be classified as a polythermal type with cold ice which is below the pressure melting point and a temperate ice layer in the bottom sections of the glacier and with a temperate surface layer only during summer seasons. At a depth of 10 m , temperatures are of the order of -2°C to -3°C.
The purpose of this study is to describe the current state of tidewater glaciers in Svalbard as an extension of the inventory of Hagen et al. (1993). The ice masses of Svalbard cover an area of ca 36 600 km2 and more than 60% of the glaciated areas are glaciers which terminate in the sea at calving ice-cliffs. Recent data on the geometry of glacier tongues, their flow velocities and front position changes have been extracted from ASTER images acquired from 2000-2006 using automated methods of satellite image analysis. Analyses have shown that 163 Svalbard glaciers are of tidewater type (having contact with the ocean) and the total length of their calving ice-cliffs is 860 km . When compared with the previous inventory, 14 glaciers retreated from the ocean to the land over a 30-40 year period. Eleven formerly land-based glaciers now terminate in the sea. A new method of assessing the dynamic state of glaciers, based on patterns of frontal crevassing, has been developed. Tidewater glacier termini are divided into four groups on the basis of differences in crevasse patterns and flow velocity: (1) very slow or stagnant glaciers, (2) slow-flowing glaciers, (3) fast-flowing glaciers, (4) surging glaciers (in the active phase) and fast ice streams. This classification has enabled us to estimate total calving flux from Svalbard glaciers with an accuracy appreciably higher than that of previous attempts. Mass loss due to calving from the whole archipelago (excluding Kvitřya) is estimated to be 5.0-8.4 km3 yr-1 (water equivalent - w.e.), with a mean value 6.75 ± 1.7 km3 yr-1 (w.e.). Thus, ablation due to calving contributes as much as 17-25% (with a mean value 21%) to the overall mass loss from Svalbard glaciers. By implication, the contribution of Svalbard iceberg flux to sea-level rise amounts to ca 0.02 mm yr-1. Also calving flux in the Arctic has been considered and the highest annual specific mass balance attributable to iceberg calving has been found for Svalbard.
Marine rock-accumulative terraces at 2-230 m a.s.l. in the southern Sörkapp Land are typical for glacioisostaticly uplifted areas. The Holocene terraces reach up to 19 m a.s.l. An outstanding coastal ridge at 9-10 m a.s.l. was radiocarbon-dated at 6580±160 years B.P. No marine transgression during the Holocene on higher and older terraces was noted, what is also confirmed by well preserved raised storm ridges. Any of glacial advances during the Holocene were more extensive than the one of the Little Ice Age. However the Pleistocene glaciations were more extensive. Among glacial landforms in the area there are: ice-cored frontal and lateral moraines up to 70 m high, plains of ground, ablation and fluted moraines, complexes of glaciofluvial fans. The glaciers retreated 0.3-2 km since 1936 i.e. ca 10 m a year on the average. There are large consequent structural landslides on eastern slopes of Keilhaufjellet.
Reduced ice thickness made the glaciers of the northeastern Sörkapp Land occupy considerably smaller area in 1971 than in 1961. Glacial retreat was however more limited in this area than in a remaining part of the Sörkapp Land. Melting of firn intensified processes on mountain slopes.
The ablation of glaciers is an important factor in energy exchange between the atmosphere and land ice masses. The dynamics of ablation closely reflects climate changes and is important for the estimation of the outflow of meltwater, which, having penetrated a glacier to bedrock, stimulates its velocity by increasing basal sliding. More detailed studies using automatic weather stations (AWS) and the calculation of the energy budget are rarely conducted on small glaciers. The mass balance of the Hans Glacier has been monitored since 1989. Its intensified monitoring using AWS began in 2003. The results show that ablation depends more evidently on the daily mean and maximum air temperature and wind speed than on total and net radiation. Ablation, both that controlled by sonic height ranger and that measured manually on stakes, was compared with the values calculated on the basis of energy flux formulas applied by Oerlemans (2000). The statistical results allowed us to construct empirical equations, which in turn enabled us to compute the course and total ablation during the summer seasons. It can be described on the basis of two primary meteorological elements (air temperature and wind speed), as recorded in the station representing the regional area (Hornsund) or measured in situ on the glacier. Standard measurements of ablation from the years 1989-2004 were used to verify empirical model. The computed mean value of summer ablation for 1989-2004 was calculated at 1.35 m , differing from real measurements by only 10% (with SD = 0.18). The results obtained illustrate that an empirical equation can be applied in time series analyses. A regional ablation model enables us to investigate the mass-balance history of glaciers on the basis of meteorological data.
In summer 1998 detailed measurements of ablation were carried out on the Waldemar Glacier in order to determine its spatial and time variation. Five-days' average ablation was equal to 14.7 cm water equivalent (w.e.), with maximum total ablation of 160-180 cm w.e. at 200 m a.s.l., and the lowest ablation of 106 cm w.e. at 350 m a.s.l. Total ablation for the whole glacier was estimated at 120.5 cm w.e. Simplified scheme of changes of summer ablation with altitude was exampled by this glacier. Relation between discharge from individual fragments of the Waldemar Glacier and their ablation was examined. Discharge of the Waldemar River was analysed: from about 4,800,000 m3 of water in the stream, 67% came from surface ablation of the Waldemar Glacier.
One of the most significant global climatic events in the Cenozoic was the transition from greenhouse to icehouse conditions in Antarctica. Tectonic evolution of the region and gradual cooling at the end of Eocene led to the first appearance of ice sheets at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary (ca. 34 Ma). Here we report geological record of mountain glaciers that preceded major ice sheet formation in Antarctica. A terrestrial, valley-type tillite up to 65 metres thick was revealed between two basaltic lava sequences in the Eocene– Oligocene Point Thomas Formation at Hervé Cove – Breccia Crag in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. K-Ar dating of the lavas suggests the age of the glaciation at 45–41 Ma (Middle Eocene). It is the oldest Cenozoic record of alpine glaciers in West Antarctica, providing insight into the onset of glaciation of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.
Arctic glaciers respond quickly to climatic conditions, which is why they play a special role as climate warming indicators. Studying them in the long term is the key to understanding future global environmental changes.
The Antarctic Peninsula region has experienced a recent cooling for about 15 years since the beginning of the 21st century. In Livingston Island, this cooling has been of 0.8°C over the 12-yr period 2004–2016, and of 1.0°C for the summer average temperatures over the same period. In this paper, we analyse whether this observed cooling has implied a significant change in the density of the snowpack covering Hurd and Johnsons glaciers, and whether such a density change has had, by itself, a noticeable impact in the calculated surface mass balance. Our results indicate a decrease in the snow density by 22 kg m-3 over the study period. The density changes are shown to be correlated with the summer temperature changes. We show that this observed decrease in density does not have an appreciable effect on the calculated surface mass balance, as the corresponding changes are below the usual error range of the surface mass balance estimates. This relieves us from the need of detailed and time-consuming snow density measurements at every mass-balance campaign.
Vegetation succession in front of five retreating glaciers was studied using phytosociological relevés (60) located at different distances between the Little Ice Age (LIA) moraines and the present glacier fronts around Petunia Bay. Approximate dating of succession stages was based on a study of the changing position of glacier fronts in the past approximately 100 years. The described succession corresponds to the uni−directional, non−replacement model of succession. All constituent species, except one, present in the nearby old tundra have colonized the glacier forelands since the end of the LIA. The first species appeared about 5 years after deglaciation. The latest succession stages closely resemble the old tundra.
Landscape changes of the Gåsbreen glacier and its vicinity since 1899 are described. Maps at 1:50 000 scale of changes of the glacier's elevation and extent for the periods 1938-1961, 1961-1990, 1990-2010, and 1938-2010 are analyzed in comparison with results of the authors' field work in the summer seasons 1983, 1984, 2000, 2005 and 2008. During all the 20th century, the progressive recession of the glacier revealed in a dramatic decrease in the thickness of its lower part, with a small reduction of its area and length. However, further shrinkage produced significant shortening and reduction in area which resulted in final decline of the Goësvatnet glacial dammed lake in 2002. Hence, the lowest (and very thick, up to 150-160 m) part of the former glacier tongue and dammed lake were transformed into a new terraced river valley south of the glacier and a typical marginal zone with glacial landforms north of the glacier. Since 1961, the equilibrium line altitude of the Gåsbreen glacier has risen from ca 350 to ca 500 m a.s.l. and now is located below the very steep rocky walls of the Mehesten mountain ridge, 1378 m a.s.l. Hence, the glacier is being fed by snow avalanches from these rocky walls and much more snow melts during the warmer summer seasons, stimulating a quicker recession of the lowest part of the glacier. This recession may be stopped only by significant climate cooling or increase in snow.
Temperature and precipitation conditions in the Kaffiøyra region in the summer season (21 July-31 August) for the period from 1975-2014 are described based on data collected during 22 expeditions, in which meteorological measurements were carried out, and complete data series combining both original and reconstructed data. The latter ones were obtained using data from the Ny Ålesund meteorological station, which are strongly correlated with data from the Kaffiøyra region. Seasonal statistics presented for temperature and precipitation based on these two sets of data reveal only slight changes. Summer temperatures in the Kaffiøyra region in the studied period (1975-2014) showed statistically significant strong upward trends, while precipitation totals revealed a downward trend, but not statistically significant. In the studied area, based on 40-years of data, it was demonstrated that the near-surface lapse rates of summer air temperature are slightly lower in glaciated (0.58°C/100 m) than in non-glaciated areas (0.67°C/100 m). Anticyclonic/cyclonic circulation types significantly increase/decrease air temperature on the Waldemar Glacier, while their impact on precipitation is markedly smaller. In summer, close correlations were observed between air temperature and such glacier characteristics as the mass balance and the location of the equilibrium line, while precipitation does not have a great influence on them.
Diatom assemblages from small pools and creeks on the Ecology Glacier forefield have been investigated. It is the first study in the Admiralty Bay region after the thorough taxonomic revision of the non-marine Antarctic diatom flora. A total of 122 diatom taxa, belonging to 35 genera were identified. More than 55% of all observed species have a restricted Antarctic distribution. Another 15% have a marine origin. Nitzschia gracilis Hantzsch, N. homburgiensis Lange-Bertalot and Planothidium rostrolanceolatum Van de Vijver et al. dominated the flora. Based on a DCA analysis, samples were subdivided in three groups reflecting ecological differences. Several samples (group 1) showed a mixed freshwater/marine diatom composition and are typical for coastal pools. Two other groups were separated based on the amount of limnoterrestrial taxa indicating the temporary character of some of the pools.
Rock glaciers are lobate or tongue-shaped landforms which consist of rock debris and have either an ice core or an ice-cemented matrix. Characteristics such as the landscape setting, morphology, material and current geomorphological state are universally used to classify rock glaciers. In Antarctica, rock glaciers have only been surveyed on the Antarctic Peninsula, Ellsworth Mountains and in Victoria Land. This paper presents the first data on the identification and description of rock glaciers in the Jutulsessen nunataks, Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. The rock glaciers in the Jutulsessen exhibit a variety of morphologies and states. Our data suggests that the rock glaciers in Brugdedalen and Jutuldalen are active, while the features at Vassdalen and Grjotlia are considered inactive, and a feature at Grjotøyra is considered relict. The described rock glaciers do not fit into existing classification systems and appear to be different to alpine, Arctic and Andean rock glaciers. They further present examples that fit both the ‘glaciogenic’ and ‘permafrost’ development theories.
Soils, having a well-developed sequence of A and Bw horizons, are widespread on the uplifted marine terrace 8- 12 m a.s.l. in the proximity of Nottinghambukta Bay . The present-day origin of these soils is however questionable, while similarly developed soils, but buried under the cover of the youngest till were found on a forefield of the Werenskiold Glacier. To quantify an intensity of the soil-forming process under present climate conditions of SW Spitsbergen , the chronosequence of soils developed from the Recent, up to 70 year-old moraines, was studied on the forefield of Werenskiold Glacier. Significant dissolution of CaCO3, decrease of pH, leaching of calcium and magnesium, increase of amorphous iron content, as well as an accumulation of organic matter and initial formation of aggregate soil structure were observed within the surface layer of recent till. The 70 year-long period of pedogenesis was, however, too short for a distinct morphological differentiation of the subsurface B horizon. It is concluded, that deep and structural Bw horizons of some surface and buried soils are relicts of a much longer period of relatively warm climate before the last transgression of glaciers.
This study used ground penetrating radar soundings to examine a tongue-shaped rock glacier (64°04’S 58°25’W) on James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula, in January 2005. The rock glacier studied has multiple well-developed transverse ridges and approximately 800 m long from the talus of its head to its frontal slopes and is 300 m wide in the middle. The longitudinal ground penetrating radar profile identified debris bands which dip up-glacier, similar to the thrust structures in the compression zone of a valley glacier. Transverse ground penetrating radar profiles indicated a layered structure which is inclined towards the central part of the rock glacier and which resembles the transverse foliation of a valley glacier. Consequently, the internal structure of the rock glacier is revealed as being similar to the “nested spoons” common in the interior of valley glaciers. We concluded that this rock glacier has been created by the deformation of a glacier ice core and a thick and continuous debris mantle.