Interactions between glacier dynamics, ice structure, and climate at Fjallsjökul, south-east Iceland

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Rebecca Dell, Rachel Carr, Emrys Phillips, Andrew Russell


Over recent decades, the number of outlet glaciers terminating in lakes in Iceland has increased in line with climate warming. The mass-balance changes of these lake-terminating outlet gla-ciers are sensitive to rising air temperatures, due to altered glacier dynamics and increased surface melt. This study aims to better understand the relationship between proglacial lake development, climate, glacier dynamics and glacier structure at Fjallsjökull, a large, lake-terminating outlet glacier in south-east Iceland. We used satellite imagery to map glacier terminus position and lake extent between 1973 and 2016, and a combination of aerial and satellite imagery to map the structural architecture of the glacier’s terminus in 1982, 1994 and 2011. The temporal evolution of ice surface velocities between 1990 and 2018 was calculated using feature tracking. Statistically significant increases in the rate of terminus retreat and lake expansion were identified in 2001, 2009 and 2011. Our surface velocity and structural datasets revealed the development of localised flow ‘corridors’ over time, which conveyed relatively faster flow towards the glacier’s terminus. We attribute the overall changes in dynamics and structural architecture at Fjallsjökull to rising air temperatures, but argue that the spatial complexities are driven by glacier specific factors, such as basal topography.



Environmental Sciences, Other Environmental Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


glacier calving, glacier delineation, glacier flow, ice velocity, structural glaciology


Published: 2019-01-16 05:44


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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