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Surge-type glaciers in the Russian High Arctic identified from digital satellite imagery

  • Julian A. Dowdeswell (a1) and Meredith Williams (a1)

Abstract

Landsat digital imagery was used to search the island archipelagos of Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya and Novaya Zemlya, Russian High Arctic, for the presence of looped moraines characteristic of past glacier surges. The imagery provides almost complete summer-time coverage of the 60 000 km2 of ice in these islands. very few surge-type glaciers are identified: none in Franz Josef Land, three in Novaya Zemlya and two on Severnaya Zemlya. This contrasts greatly with Svalbard (ice-covered area 36 600 km2), to the west, where 36% of glaciers and ice-cap drainage basins are inferred to surge. The strong climatic gradient across the Eurasian High Arctic, with decreasing temperature and moisture eastward, may provide a gross control on this pattern through colder glacier thermal structure, limiting basal drainage on the thinner ice masses in particular.

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References

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