Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Mass balance of glaciers in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada

  • Roy M. Koerner (a1)

Abstract

Mass-balance measurements began in the Canadian High Arctic in 1959. This paper considers the >40 years of measurements made since then, principally on two stagnant ice caps (on Meighen and Melville Islands), parts of two ice caps (the northeast section of Agassiz Ice Cap on northern Ellesmere Island and the northwest part of Devon Ice Cap on Devon Island) and two glaciers (White and Baby Glaciers, Axel Heiberg Island). The results show continuing negative balances. All the glaciers and ice caps except Meighen Ice Cap show weak but significant trends with time towards increasingly negative balances. Meighen Ice Cap may owe its lack of a trend to a cooling feedback from the increasingly open Arctic Ocean nearby (Johannessen and others, 1995). Feedback from this ocean has been shown to be the main cause of this ice cap’s growth and persistence at such a low elevation of <300 ma.s.l. (Alt, 1979). There may be a similar feedback in the lower elevations on Sverdrup Glacier which drains the northwest sector of Devon Ice Cap. The ablation rates there have not increased to the same extent as they have at higher elevations on the same glacier. Although evidence from the meteorological stations in the area shows that the eastern Arctic has either been cooling or has shown no change on an annual basis between 1950 and 1998, the same records show that the summers are showing a slight warming (Zhang and others, 2000). The summer warming, although slight (<1.0˚C over 48 years), is the cause of the weak trend to increasingly negative balances. This is because the mass-balance variability is dominated by the year-to-year variations in the summer balance; there is a very low variability, and no trend over time even within sections of the time series, of the winter balance of the various ice caps and glaciers. Repeat laser altimetry of ice caps by NASA for the period 1995–2000 over most of the ice caps in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Abdalati and others, 2004) has shown that the ablation zones are thinning while the accumulation zones show either a slight thickening or very little elevation change. Laser altimetry is revealing similar patterns of change in Greenland (Krabill and others, 2000) and Svalbard (Bamber and others, 2004). The thickening of the accumulation zones in the Canadian case may be due to higher accumulation rates, not just between the two years of laser measurements, but over a period substantially longer than the >40 years of ground-based measurements.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Mass balance of glaciers in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Mass balance of glaciers in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Mass balance of glaciers in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abdalati, W. and 9 others. 2004. Elevation changes of ice caps in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. J. Geophys. Res., 109(F4), F04007. (10.1029/2003JF000045.)
Alt, B.T. 1979. Investigation of summer synoptic climate controls on the mass balance of Meighen Ice Cap. Atmosphere–Ocean, 17(3), 181199.
Bamber, J.L., Krabill, W.B., Raper, V. and Dowdeswell, J.A.. 2004. Anomalous growth of part of a large Arctic ice cap: Austfonna, Svalbard. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(12), L12402. (10.1029/ 2004Gl019667.)
Benson, C.S. 1961. Stratigraphic studies in the snow and firn of the Greenland ice sheet. Folia Geogr. Dan., 9, 1337.
Cogley, J.G. and Adams, W.P.. 1998. Mass balance of glaciers other than the ice sheets. J. Glaciol., 44(147), 315325.
Cogley, J.G., Adams, W.P., Ecclestone, M.A., Jung-Rothenhäusler, F. and Ommanney, C.S.L.. 1995. Mass balance of Axel Heiberg Island glaciers, 1960–1991: a reassessment and discussion. Saskatoon, Sask., Environment Canada. National Hydrology Research Institute. (NHRI Science Report 6.)
Crary, A.P. 1960. Arctic ice island and ice shelf studies, Part I I. Arctic, 13(1), 3250.
Drinkwater, M. and Rebhan, H.. 2003. CryoSat science report. ESA Spec. Pap. 1272.
Dyurgerov, M.B. and Bahr, D.B.. 1999. Correlations between glacier properties: finding appropriate parameters for global glacier monitoring. J. Glaciol., 45(149), 916.
Fisher, D.A. and Koerner, R.M.. 2003. Holocene ice-core climate history: a multi-variable approach. In Mackay, A., Battarbee, R., Birks, R., Oldfield, J. and Arnold, J., eds. Global change in the Holocene. London, Arnold.
Jeffries, M.O. 2002. Glaciers of the Arctic islands. Ellesmere Island ice shelves and ice islands. In Williams, R.S. Jr and Ferrigno, J., eds. Satellite image atlas of glaciers of the world: North America. USGS Prof. Pap . 1386-J, J147J164.
Johannessen, O.M., Miles, M. and Bjørgo, E.. 1995. The Arctic’s shrinking sea ice. Nature, 376(6536), 126127.
Koerner, R.M. 1977. Devon Island ice cap: core stratigraphy and paleoclimate. Science, 196(4285), 1518.
Koerner, R.M. and Fisher, D.A.. 1990. A record of Holocene summer climate from a Canadian high-Arctic ice core. Nature, 343(6259), 630631.
Koerner, R.M. and Fisher, D.A.. 2002. Ice-core evidence for widespread Arctic glacier retreat in the Last Interglacial and the early Holocene. Ann. Glaciol., 35, 1924.
Koerner, R.M. and Lundgaard, L.. 1995. Glaciers and global warming. Géog. Phys. Quat., 49(3), 429434.
Krabill, W. and 9 others. 2000. Greenland Ice Sheet: high-elevation balance and peripheral thinning. Science, 289(5478), 428430.
Reeh, N. and 6 others. 2002. Glacier specific ablation rate derived by remote sensing measurements. Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(16), 1011.
Sharp, M., Copland, L., Filbert, K., Burgess, D. and Williamson, S.. 2004. Recent changes in the extent and volume of Canadian Arctic glaciers. In Glaciological Data Report GD-32. Boulder, CO, National Snow and Ice Data Center, World Center for Glaciology.
Zhang, X., Vincent, L.A., Hogg, W.D. and Niitsoo, A.. 2000. Temperature and precipitation trends in Canada during the 20th century. Atmosphere–Ocean, 38(3), 395429.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed