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

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. 

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