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Climatogenic north–south asymmetry of local glaciers in Spitsbergen and other parts of the Arctic

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Although World Glacier Inventory (WGI) data for 241 local glaciers (>1 km2 in area) in Svalbard show a mean aspect of 014° ± 24°, their mid-altitudes are lowest for an aspect of 109° ± 46°, which is inconsistent. Further data are generated here for the altitude, length and source aspect of 205 local glaciers (0.3–6.0 km long) in the main area of local glaciation in Svalbard, Nordenskiöld Land. All four mountain blocks have mean glacier source aspects of 356° to 018°; the overall mean is 011° ± 8°. Mid-altitudes are lowest at 042° ± 21°, predicted to be 53 m lower than on opposite aspects. Lowest altitudes are predicted at 009° to 030°, averaging 157 m lower than on opposite aspects. These results show that local, land-terminating glaciers around 78° N are affected more by north–south radiation receipt contrasts than by wind effects, consistent with the trend found across most other Arctic regions. It is concluded that, although weaker than in mid-latitudes, contrasts due to slope climates are substantial even in Arctic glaciers. This is apparent only when small, steep glaciers are inventoried: WGI data are incomplete and users need to check the thresholds of coverage.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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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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