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Home* News and Stories → Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen

Several of Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are on the move. A rather sud­den type of advan­ce cal­led gla­cial sur­ge is lin­ked to the inter­nal mecha­nics of ice move­ment. The­se gla­ciers are buil­ding up ice volu­me in the catch­ment area over deca­des to dischar­ge this wit­hin rela­tively short time (typi­cal­ly 1-2 years), some­thing that invol­ves rapid move­ment of up to an impres­si­ve 10 meters per day or even more. As a result, sur­ging gla­ciers are usual­ly stron­gly crev­as­sed.

This beha­viour has recent­ly been obser­ved at Penck­breen (Van Keu­len­fjord) and Aavaats­mark­breen. It is also cur­r­ent­ly known from other Sval­bard gla­ciers. Around 2014, the advan­ce of parts of the ice cap Aus­t­fon­na has attrac­ted atten­ti­on.

The sur­ge beha­viour is lin­ked to ice dyna­mics and not to a cli­ma­ti­cal­ly indu­ced posi­ti­ve mass balan­ce. Altog­e­ther, Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are suf­fe­ring from a signi­fi­cant loss of ice volu­me, with a ten­den­cy to incre­a­sing speed of loss in recent years due to cli­ma­te chan­ge.

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen – Penck­breen Sur­ge

The sur­ging gla­cier Penck­breen (foto April 2016 © Stig Onar­heim, with friend­ly per­mis­si­on).

Penckbreen surge

Source: Feltlogg, Svalbardglaciers.org.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2016-08-12 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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