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Timing of glacier advances and climate in the High Tatra Mountains (Western Carpathians) during the Last Glacial Maximum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Michał Makos*
Department of Climate Geology, Institute of Geology, University of Warsaw, Żwirkii Wigury, 93 02-089 Warsaw, Poland
Jan Dzierżek
Department of Climate Geology, Institute of Geology, University of Warsaw, Żwirkii Wigury, 93 02-089 Warsaw, Poland
Jerzy Nitychoruk
Department of Geology, Pope John Paul II State School of Higher Education in Biała Podlaska, ul. Sidorska, 95/97 21-500 Biała Podlaska, Poland
Marek Zreda
Hydrology and Water Resources Department, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
*Corresponding author.E-mail (M. Makos), (J. Dzierżek), (J. Nitychoruk), (M. Zreda).


During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), long valley glaciers developed on the northern and southern sides of the High Tatra Mountains, Poland and Slovakia. Chlorine-36 exposure dating of moraine boulders suggests two major phases of moraine stabilization, at 26–21 ka (LGM I — maximum) and at 18 ka (LGM II). The dates suggest a significantly earlier maximum advance on the southern side of the range. Reconstructing the geometry of four glaciers in the Sucha Woda, Pańszczyca, Mlynicka and Velicka valleys allowed determining their equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) at 1460, 1460, 1650 and 1700 m asl, respectively. Based on a positive degree-day model, the mass balance and climatic parameter anomaly (temperature and precipitation) has been constrained for LGM I advance. Modeling results indicate slightly different conditions between northern and southern slopes. The N–S ELA gradient finds confirmation in slightly higher temperature (at least 1 °C) or lower precipitation (15%) on the south-facing glaciers during LGM I. The precipitation distribution over the High Tatra Mountains indicates potentially different LGM atmospheric circulation than at the present day, with reduced northwesterly inflow and increased southerly and westerly inflows of moist air masses.

University of Washington

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