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Mass Balance of 14 Icelandic Glaciers, 1945–2017: Spatial Variations and Links With Climate

Mass Balance of 14 Icelandic Glaciers, 1945–2017: Spatial Variations and Links With Climate

Title: Mass Balance of 14 Icelandic Glaciers, 1945–2017: Spatial Variations and Links With Climate
Author: Belart, Joaquín M. C.   orcid.org/0000-0002-0853-8935
Magnússon, Eyjólfur   orcid.org/0000-0002-9816-0787
Berthier, Etienne   orcid.org/0000-0001-5978-9155
Gunnlaugsson, Ágúst Þ.
Pálsson, Finnur   orcid.org/0000-0002-0874-6443
Adalgeirsdottir, Gudfinna   orcid.org/0000-0002-3442-2733
Jóhannesson, Tómas   orcid.org/0000-0001-7274-8593
Þorsteinsson, Þorsteinn
Björnsson, Helgi
Date: 2020-06-03
Language: English
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Verkfræði- og náttúruvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Engineering and Natural Sciences (UI)
Department: Jarðvísindastofnun (HÍ)
Institute of Earth Sciences (UI)
Series: Frontiers in Earth Science;8(163)
ISSN: 2296-6463
DOI: 10.3389/feart.2020.00163
Subject: Region-wide mass balance; Glacier–climate relationship; Mass-balance sensitivity; Iceland; Remote sensing; Historical aerial photographs; Jöklarannsóknir; Jöklar; Loftslag; Loftslagsrannsóknir; Fjarkönnun
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/2011

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Belart, J. M. C., Magnússon, E., Berthier, E., Gunnlaugsson, Á. Þ., Pálsson, F., Aðalgeirsdóttir, G., Jóhannesson, T., Thorsteinsson Th., Björnsson, H. (2020). Mass balance of 14 icelandic glaciers, 1945–2017: Spatial variations and links with climate. Frontiers in Earth Science, 8 doi:10.3389/feart.2020.00163


To date, most mass balance studies in Iceland have concentrated on the three largest ice caps. This study turns the focus toward smaller Icelandic glaciers, presenting geodetic mass-balance estimates for 14 of them (total area 1,005 km2 in 2017) from 1945 to 2017, in decadal time spans. These glaciers, distributed over the country, are subject to different climatic forcing. The mass balance, derived from airborne and spaceborne stereo imagery and airborne lidar, is correlated with precipitation and air temperature by a first-order equation including a reference-surface correction term. This permits statistical modeling of annual mass balance, used to temporally homogenize the mass balance for a region-wide mass balance assessment for the periods 1945–1960, 1960–1980, 1980–1994, 1994–2004, 2004–2010, and 2010–2017. The 14 glaciers were close to equilibrium during 1960–1994, with an area-weighted mass balance of 0.07 ± 0.07 m w.e. a−1. The most negative mass balance occurred in 1994–2010, accounting for −1.20 ± 0.09 m w.e. a−1, or 21.4 ± 1.6 Gt (1.3 ± 0.1 Gt a−1) of mass loss. Glaciers located along the south and west coasts show higher decadal mass-balance variability and static mass-balance sensitivities to summer temperature and winter precipitation, −2.21 ± 0.25 m w.e. a−1 K−1 and 0.22 ± 0.11 m w.e. a−1(10%)−1, respectively, while glaciers located inland, north and northwest, have corresponding mass-balance sensitivities of −0.72 ± 0.10 m w.e. a−1 K−1 and 0.13 ± 0.07 m w.e. a−1(10%)−1. These patterns are likely due to the proximity to warm (south and west) vs. cold (northwest) oceanic currents.


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© 2020 Belart, Magnússon, Berthier, Gunnlaugsson, Pálsson, Aðalgeirsdóttir, Jóhannesson, Thorsteinsson and Björnsson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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