Interpretation of the anomalous growth of Austfonna, Svalbard, a large Arctic ice cap
Abstract:As previously reported, repeat-pass airborne laser altimetry measurements made in May 1996 and May 2002 show a large positive ice-surface elevation change rate over parts of the accumulation area of Austfonna, eastern Svalbard. The maximum growth rate is estimated to be equivalent to a 35–40% increase in snowfall over the area of thickening. Thinning is observed at lower elevations. Here we discuss in detail the possible causes of these elevation changes, including ice-cap dynamics and/or firn density changes, and conclude that sea-ice loss producing a localized increase in precipitation over Austfonna remains the most convincing explanation. This study highlights the problems of interpreting relatively short-term altimetry measurements where auxiliary data are limited in both spatial and temporal extent.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2005
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