How long will an Arctic mountain glacier survive? A case study of Austre Lovénbreen, Svalbard

  • Zemin Wang Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
  • Guobiao Lin Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
  • Songtao Ai Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
Keywords: Climate scenarios, Elmer/Ice, basal sliding, peak runoff, glacier disappearance


To study Arctic valley glacier responses to global climate change, the Elmer/Ice ice-flow model was used to investigate long-term changes in Austre Lovénbreen, a typical polythermal glacier in Svalbard. Evolution and features, including volume, area, ice thickness, runoff and time and mode of glacier disappearance, were projected. Firstly, steady-state simulations were performed to determine the best parameters for the ice-flow model, which were then used to simulate glacial dynamics. Based on the 21st-century Arctic warming trend in the fifth assessment report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the evolution of the glacier was simulated under three hypothetical climatic scenarios: pessimistic, high-probability and optimistic. The results predicted that the glacier will retreat until disappearance under all three scenarios, and its disappearance time will likely be approximately 111 years (by 2120). Under all scenarios, glacier volume and area reductions will be slow at first, then fast and finally slow again at the end. In particular, glacial runoff will increase markedly until 2070 in the high-probability scenario, and the peak runoff will be double the current value.


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How to Cite
Wang Z., Lin G., & Ai S. (2019). How long will an Arctic mountain glacier survive? A case study of Austre Lovénbreen, Svalbard. Polar Research, 38.
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