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Bråsvellbreen & Austfonna

Map Bråsvellbreen & Austfonna

Gene­ral: The names Aus­t­fon­na and Brås­vell­breen are descrip­ti­ve. Aus­t­fon­na means ‘eas­tern ice cap’. ‘Brå’ means ‘sud­den’, svell is ‘advan­ce’. The Brås­vell­breen is named becau­se of a sud­den advan­ce in 1937-38, a so-cal­led sur­ge. The sur­face area of Aus­t­fon­na is 8100 km2, wit­hout neigh­bou­ring Vega­fon­na (350 km2). The sur­face area of Brås­vell­breen is 1110 km2 (as of 1980, decre­asing). The ice cliff of Bråsvellbreen/Austfonna is about 180 km long, inter­rupt­ed only by very few, small rocky out­crops. This makes it the lon­gest gla­cier front of the nor­t­hern hemi­sphe­re.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Calving front of Bråsvellbreen

Gla­cier front of Brås­vell­breen.

Geo­lo­gy: Ice cap (Aus­t­fon­na) and Brås­vell­breen is a rela­ted out­let gla­cier. The boun­da­ry bet­ween tho­se two is not visi­ble. The part of the ice cap whe­re the ice is flowing signi­fi­cant­ly fas­ter pro­ba­b­ly becau­se of a depres­si­on in the under­ly­ing bed­rock is the Brås­vell­breen, which means the dif­fe­rence lies in the ice dyna­mics, it is defi­ned by a fas­ter ice flow and thus hig­her ice tur­no­ver. This means that it is an important part of the mass balan­ce sys­tem. Parts of Aus­t­fon­na are belie­ved to have sur­ged around 2013, lea­ding to a dischar­ge of lar­ge mas­ses of ice­bergs into the adja­cent Barents Sea and chan­ges of coast­li­ne.

Recom­men­ded book for fur­ther, well-digesta­ble (real­ly!) info about geo­lo­gy and land­scape of Sval­bard.

The ice cap Austfonna near Isispynten: an impression of infinity

The ice cap Aus­t­fon­na near Isis­pyn­ten: an impres­si­on of infi­ni­ty.


Land­scape: Wide ice cap, most­ly free of crev­as­ses. On the lar­ge sur­face, melt­wa­ter forms streams during the sum­mer, which cas­ca­de down the gla­cier front in water­falls in some places, which is quite spec­ta­cu­lar.

Above and below: Isispynten on the eastern side of Austfonna consists largely of some square kilometres of moraine

Abo­ve and below: Isis­pyn­ten on the eas­tern side of Aus­t­fon­na con­sists lar­ge­ly of some squa­re kilo­me­t­res of morai­ne.


Gal­lery Brås­vell­breen

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.



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last modification: 2019-02-15 · copyright: Rolf Stange