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A new glacier inventory for the Svartisen region, Norway, from Landsat ETM+ data: challenges and change assessment

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Glaciers are widely recognized as key indicators of climate change, and their meltwater plays an important role in hydropower production in Norway. Since the last glacier inventory was compiled in northern Norway in the 1970s, marked fluctuations in glacier length and mass balance have been reported for individual glaciers, and the current overall glacier state is thus not well known. Within the framework of the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) initiative, we have created a new inventory for 489 glaciers in the Svartisen region, northern Norway, using a Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) satellite scene from 7 September 1999 and automated multispectral glacier mapping (thresholded band ratios). In addition, visual inspection and correction of the generated glacier outlines has been applied. Adverse snow conditions and uncertain drainage divides made glacier mapping challenging in some regions of the study site. Glacier outlines from 1968, as digitized from a topographic map, were used for a quantitative change assessment for a selection of 300 glaciers. The overall area change of this sample from 1968 to 1999 was close to zero, but with a strongly increasing scatter towards smaller glaciers, large area gains (>50%) for small glaciers (<1 km2), and an unexpected stronger relative area loss towards the wetter coast. The overall size changes are small (<1%) for the three largest ice masses in the study region (Vestisen, √ėstisen and Bl√•mannsisen).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-09-01

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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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