Winter mass balance record on Nigardsbreen in 2020

by Jacob Yde, June 19, 2020

Incredible amounts of snow have fallen in central Norway throughout the mild winter of 2019/2020. This has led to a record-breaking winter mass balance on Nigardsbreen.


Heavy snowfall records for the winter 2019/2020 have been observed on Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap and other Norwegian glaciers, NVE reports.

For Nigardsbreen, the winter mass balance of 3.5 m w.e. is 57% higher than average. This is the highest recorded winter mass balance since the observations commenced in 1962.

For Austdalsbreen, the winter mass balance was 2.9 m w.e., which is 32% higher than average for the period 1988-2019. This is the fifth highest winter mass balance on record.

The reason for the heavy snowfall in the mountains is the unusual mild and precipitation-rich winter of 2019/2020. In central Norway, these weather conditions lead to a snowline located at higher elevations than normal and more snowfall above the snowline. Mild winters will very likely become more frequent in the future as climate changes progress.