Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Svalbard glacier elevation changes and contribution to sea level rise

Authors


Abstract

[1] We compare satellite altimetry from the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat, 2003–2007) to older topographic maps and digital elevation models (1965–1990) to calculate long-term elevation changes of glaciers on the Svalbard Archipelago. Results indicate significant thinning at most glacier fronts with either slight thinning or thickening in the accumulation areas, except for glaciers that surged which show thickening in the ablation area and thinning in the accumulation areas. The most negative geodetic balances occur in the south and on glaciers that have surged, while the least negative balances occur in the northeast and on glaciers in the quiescent phase of a surge cycle. Geodetic balances are related to latitude and to the dynamical behavior of the glacier. The average volume change rate over the past 40 years for Svalbard, excluding Austfonna and Kvitøya is estimated to be −9.71 ± 0.55 km3 yr−1 or −0.36 ± 0.02 m yr−1 w. equivalent, for an annual contribution to global sea level rise of 0.026 mm yr−1 sea level equivalent.

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