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Dynamics of surging tidewater glaciers in Tempelfjorden, Spitsbergen
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Terrestrial glacial geomorphology has long been used to evaluate the extent, chronology and dynamics of former glaciers and ice sheets. New marine geophysical methods provide an opportunity to study the glacial submarine morphology of modern continental shelves and fjord systems. This makes it possible to study landform assemblages in the submarine settings that are often better preserved than their terrestrial counterparts.

This study focuses mainly on the recent surge history of the tidewater glacier Tunabreen, which calves into Tempelfjorden in Western Spitsbergen. Tunabreen is a small outlet glacier of the Lomonosovfonna ice cap and has experienced severalsurges and terminal retreats during the last century. The multiple surge events havemost likely removed or reworked landform assemblages created by earlier surges,resulting in a complex geomorphological imprint on the bed of Tempelfjorden.

Tunabreen has left a specific morphological imprint on the sea floor, consisting of iceflow‐parallel lineations and generally flow‐transverse retreat moraines. Comparisonof retreat moraines mapped from high resolution multibeam bathymetric data andglacier terminal positions, established using remote sensing imagery suggest that themoraines in the inner part of Tempelfjorden are annually formed recessionalmoraines, formed during winter still stands of the glacier margin or during its minorreadvances. Although detailed reconstruction of glacier surge dynamics based solelyon the landform distribution is challenging, it is evident that Tunabreen hasexperienced fast flow during surges and semiannual retreat of the margin after thesurges.

The main achievements of this study are a spatial reconstruction of the dynamics ofTunabreen, which has experienced three surges during the last hundred years.Together with the Little Ice Age surge of the adjacent von Postbreen, four recentsurges have been recorded in Tempelfjorden since 1870, which distinguishes thestudy area from earlier studied Svalbard tidewater surge glacier settigs, where theglaciers have been known to surge only once or twice. However a detailedunderstanding of surge triggering mechanisms and their role in controlling thedynamics of the tidewater glaciers in Svalbard is still poor and requires furtherinvestigations. Svalbard, where most of the small outlet glaciers are believed to be ofsurge type, is an excellent natural laboratory for such investigations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
tidewater glacier, surge, Spitsbergen
National Category
Physical Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88458OAI: diva2:611335
External cooperation
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2013-03-15 Created: 2013-03-15 Last updated: 2013-03-15Bibliographically approved

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