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The isotopic record at an alpine glacier and its implications for local climatic changes and isotopic homogenization processes

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Stratigraphic variations of oxygen isotopes in the snow which accumulates during the winter at the Norwegian glacier Austre Okstindbreen are not entirely eliminated after 1–2 months of ablation in the following summer. The relationship between regional temperature changes and 18Ο values in the snowpack is affected by many natural factors, but 1989/90 winter air temperatures were reflected in the snow which remained on Austre Okstindbreen at 1350 m a. s. l. inJuly 1990. There were many variations of 18Ο values in the 4.1m of snow above the 1989 summer surface, but variations in the underlying firn were relatively small. Meltwater percolation modifies the initial variations of 18Ο values in the snowpack. At a site below the mean equilibrium-line altitude on Austre Okstindbreen, increased isotopic homogenization within a 10 day period in July accompanied an increase of the mean 18Ο value. Although the isotopic record at a temperate glacier is likely to be influenced by more factors than is that at polar glaciers, it can provide an estimate of the approximate trend of local temperature variations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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