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Home* News and Stories → The Hinlopen glacier retreats

The Hinlopen glacier retreats

This is shown by satellite images, that the American Geophysical Union has published. Between 1990 and 2016 the glacier has retreated seven kilometers.

Hinlopenbreen 1990 und 2016. Red arrow shows 1990 terminus, yellow arrow shows 2016 terminus – Images: AGU, Landsat

Landsat imagery of Hinlopenbreen

The Hinlopen glacier in the north-east of Spitsbergen is a so-called surge-glacier. That means, that longer periods with normal flow speed alternate with shorter periods, in which the glacier flows 10 to 1.000 times faster. The last surge happened from 1970-1971, when the glacier pushed 2.5 km into the fjord in one year. It moved up to 12 meters a day then.

The decrease in ice, that has now been observed, has probably nothing to do with these normal fluctuations which are connected to the glacier’s internal mechanics. If a surge-glacier retreats, the ice usually accumulates in the accumulation area: it is thickening. At the Hinlopen glacier it was observed, that the ice on the upper glacier is also thinning. This suggests that it is not the early stage of a surge process, but climate change that is responsible for the retreat of the Hinlopen glacier.

Other glaciers on Spitsbergen are also undergoing a similar development, such as the Paierbreen, Hornbreen, Besselbreen and Svitjodbreen.

Source: AGU

last modification: 2017-05-25 · copyright: Rolf Stange