Brenndalsbreen explored by drone and field surveying

by Jacob Yde, September 20, 2021

The recent detachment of the lower part of Brenndalsbreen and the supraglacial transport of debris have attracted the attention of JOSTICE scientists. On September 9, 2021, a team of researchers visited Brenndalsbreen to conduct detailed surveying using drone and field mapping with the purpose of revealing the exciting history of glacial evolution at this scenic outlet glacier from Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap. 


Brenndalsbreen is an astonishing glacier located in a narrow valley with sheer striated mountain sides. Since the most recent glacier advance (the so-called Briksdalsbre event) in the 1990s, Brenndalsbreen has undergone significant recession and thinning resulting in the recent detachment of the lower part of the glacier tongue. Ice along the margin of the plateau is frequently collapsing, sending cascades of ice blocks towards the lower part of the glacier.

The front of Brenndalsbreen, September 9, 2021 (photo: Jacob Yde).

The front of Brenndalsbreen is difficult to access as it requires some climbing on slippery rocks to ascend from the forested lower part of the valley to the devegetated proglacial zone. The glacier terminus is debris-covered after a recent supraglacial sediment deposition event. Further upglacier, distinct ogive bands are visible across the glacier surface as a reminiscence of fast-flowing ice movement through the former icefall. 

The drone survey was successful, and the preliminary results are promising for producing a detailed digital elevation model of the glacier and its surroundings. In addition, HVL-student Siri Engen has measured the annual recession rate and examined glacial landforms in the forefield.

For further information on glacier changes at Brenndalsbreen, please contact Siri Engen or Marthe Gjerde.