Glacier characteristics and sediment transfer system of Longyearbreen and Larsbreen, western Spitsbergen

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Two small high-Arctic glaciers (Longyearbreen and Larsbreen) on Svalbard (78°N 15°E) were studied with respect to glaciological and hydrological characteristics. Fieldwork during the melting season of 1993 and 1994 was coupled with digital map analysis based on high-resolution digital elevation models (DEM) to reveal the dynamics and temperature regime of small glaciers in a high-Arctic environment, and its relationship to the material transport and sedimentation of these glaciers. The study showed Longyearbreen and Larsbreen to be low activity glaciers, cold-based with temperate patches, and thus having a low potential of basal erosion. The transport of ions and suspended solids in the glacial meltwater implies storage of material in and around the glacier which comes into contact with the meltwater. The study suggests that small Arctic glaciers couple the slope system with the fluvial system and therefore build a highly effective denudation system. Small polythermal glaciers are therefore important in understanding Pleistocene and Holocene landform development in cold regions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, Blindern, N‐0316 Norway

Publication date: November 22, 2000

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