Natural and societal consequences of climate-forced changes of Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap

Positive annual mass balance at Nigardsbreen and Austdalsbreen in 2019/2020

by Hallgeir Elvehøy, December 9, 2020


The combination of heavy winter snow falls and less than normal summer melt has resulted in large mass surpluses on Jostedalsbreen and other Norwegian glaciers during the mass balance year 2019/2020, NVE reports.

For Nigardsbreen, the annual balance was +1.6 m w.e. compared to a 1991-2019 average of 0.0 m w.e. This is the fifth largest mass surplus in the 59 years long record. For Austdalsbreen, the annual balance was +0.8 m w.e. compared to a 1991-2019 average of -0.6 m w.e. The summer balance was around 80 % of the long-term average on both glaciers.

 

The length change observations at Nigardsbreen show only minor changes, but the glacier tongue is thinning. Consequently, the retreat will probably continue in the coming years. 

Nigardsbreen seen from the length change reference point. The glacier has thinned considerably but the retreat in the central part is minor (-4 m). The distance from the reference point to the glacier is measured with a laser range finder (photos: Sigbjørn Åsen/NVE).

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