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Interpretation of the anomalous growth of Austfonna, Svalbard, a large Arctic ice cap

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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

More about this publication?
  • 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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