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Ice-volume changes (1936–1990) and structure of Aldegondabreen, Spitsbergen

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Aldegondabreen is a small valley glacier, ending on land, located in the Grønfjorden area of Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Airborne radio-echo sounding in 1974/75, using a 440 MHz radar, revealed a polythermal two-layered structure, which has been confirmed by detailed ground-based radio-echo sounding done in 1999 using a 15 MHz monopulse radar. The 1999 radar data reveal an upper cold layer extending down to 90 m depth in the southern part of the glacier, where the thickest ice (216 m) was also found. A repeated pattern of diffractions from the southern part of the glacier, at depths of 50–80 m and dipping down-glacier, has been interpreted as an englacial channel which originates in the temperate ice. From joint analysis of the 1936 topographic map, a digital elevation model constructed from 1990 aerial photographs and the subglacial topography determined from radar data, a severe loss of mass during the period 1936–90 has been estimated: a glacier tongue retreat of 930 m, a decrease in area from 8.9 to 7.6 km2, in average ice thickness from 101 to 73 m and in ice volume from 0.950 to 0.558 km3, which are equivalent to an average annual balance of −0.7 m w.e. This is comparable with the only available data of net mass balance for Aldegondabreen (−1.1 and −1.35 m w.e. for the balance years 1976/77 and 2002/03) and consistent with the 0.27°C increase in mean summer air temperature in this zone during 1936–90, as well as the warming in Spitsbergen following the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the general glacier recession trend observed in this region.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2005

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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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