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Plateau icefields as contributing areas to valley glaciers and the potential impact on reconstructed ELAs: a case study from the Lyngen Alps, North Norway

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Plateau icefields occur commonly in glacierized areas and not uncommonly in glaciated mountains. We report on a glacierized area of plateaux and valleys centred round the highest peak Jiehkkevárri (1833 m) in the maritime Lyngen Alps, North Norway. Some valley glaciers are fed by steep, narrow plateau glacier outlets and/or ice avalanching from the plateaux over precipitous cliffs. Plateaux must therefore be considered as "contributing areas", if they supply ice to valley systems below. Equilibrium line altitudes (ELAs) are calculated for the valley glaciers during the Little Ice Age (LIA), accounting for both input and no input of ice from plateaux above. The results show that ELAs may be at significantly higher altitudes when plateau/x are contributing ice mass. The response of plateau glaciers to climate amelioration since the end of the LIA is some-what different to that of valley glaciers, which appear to be retreating markedly. These findings have significant implications for the interpretation of moraine systems, glacier dynamics, the construction and reconstruction of present and former ELAs, and palaeo-climates in glacierized and glaciated mountain plateau areas.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1999

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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