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Relation of glacier variations to climate changes in Iceland

  • Oddur Sigurdsson (a1) and Trausti Jónsson (a2)

Abstract

Glacier variations in Iceland have been recorded systematically since the 1930s at 27 different glacier termini. The advance/retreat records of non-surging glaciers show a clear relationship to climate. A change in the climate typically leads to a response at the snout within a time period of 10 years. The records of surge-type and mixed-type glaciers show variations that are unrelated to climate. However, the maximum extension of surge-type glaciers at the end of surges and the minimum extension just before a surge appear to be influenced by long-term climate changes. A strong warming in the 1920s was a turning-point in the climate of Iceland which led to a rapid retreat of most glaciers in the country in the 1930s. The summer temperature fell gradually after 1940, with a notable drop in the mid-1960s. Since about 1970, more than half of the glaciers in Iceland have been advancing. In the western part of the country, the recovery is about one-quarter of the ground lost and in the southern, central and northern parts it is about one-half. In southeastern Iceland, some of the glaciers have been stationary for about 30 years while others have advanced slightly. Glacier snow-budget index computed from meteorological data indicates that the timing of the turning-point around 1970 coincides with a minimum in the cumulative net glacier mass balance.

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Copyright

References

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