Svalbard Tidewater Glacier Response to Climate
Luckman, Adrian1; Mansell, Damien2
1Swansea University, UNITED KINGDOM; 2Exeter University, UNITED KINGDOM
The response of tidewater glaciers to climate change is complicated by their interaction with both the atmosphere, through surface melt and mass balance, and the ocean, through ice-front melt and iceberg calving. Understanding the relative importance of these processes is vital in predicting the response of the cryosphere to atmospheric and ocean warming. The Svalbard archipelago contains hundreds of tidewater glaciers in different topographic and oceanographic settings and is known to be losing mass at an increasing rate. There is a lot to be learned from investigating the varying geometry of these glaciers through time. In this study the Envisat ASAR Wide Swath Mode (WSM) was used to automatically measure the ice-front position of hundreds of glaciers from 2006 to 2012. The WSM data provide a spatial resolution of 150m and a temporal revisit of a fews days allowing the inter-annual and intra-seasonal rate of recession to be quantified for most large glaciers. Results show a ubiquitous long-term recession in non-surge glaciers which varies in relation to fjord geometry and proximity to deep ocean currents. Superimposed on this signal is a seasonal oscillation which varies in amplitude and indicates the complex response of different glaciers to the spring warm-up.