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Geometry change between 1990 and 2003 at Finsterwalderbreen, a Svalbard surge-type glacier, from GPS profiling

  • Richard Hodgkins (a1), Adrian Fox (a2) and Anne-Marie Nuttall (a3)

Abstract

Surface mass-balance and geometry data are key to quantifying the climate response of glaciers, and confidence in data synthesis and model interpretations and forecasts requires data from as wide a range of locations and glacier types as possible. This paper presents measurements of surface elevation change at the Svalbard surge-type glacier Finsterwalderbreen, by comparing a 1990 digital elevation model (DEM) with a surface GPS profile from 2003. The pattern of elevation change is consistent with that previously noted between 1970 and 1990, and reflects the continued quiescent-phase evolution of the glacier, with mass loss in the down-glacier/receiving area of up to –1.25mw.e. a–1, and mass gain in the up-glacier/reservoir area of up to 0.60 mw.e. a–1; the area-weighted, mean change for the whole glacier is 0.19mw.e. a–1. The spatial pattern of elevation increase and decrease is complex, and the boundary between thickening and thinning determined by combining GPS and DEM data does not appear to correspond with the equilibrium-line altitude determined from surface mass-balance measurements. There is no evidence yet of a decrease in the rate of reservoir area build-up driven by mass-balance change resulting from the warmer winter air temperatures, and decreased proportion of snowfall in total precipitation, noted at meteorological stations in Svalbard.

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References

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