Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 9, 565-585, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Mar 2015
Changes in the southeast Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, between ~ 1890 and 2010
H. Hannesdóttir, H. Björnsson, F. Pálsson, G. Aðalgeirsdóttir, and Sv. Guðmundsson Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Abstract. Area and volume changes and the average geodetic mass balance of the non-surging outlet glaciers of the southeast Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, during different time periods between ~ 1890 and 2010, are derived from a multi-temporal glacier inventory. A series of digital elevation models (DEMs) (~ 1890, 1904, 1936, 1945, 1989, 2002, 2010) are compiled from glacial geomorphological features, historical photographs, maps, aerial images, DGPS measurements and a lidar survey. Given the mapped basal topography, we estimate volume changes since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) ~ 1890. The variable volume loss of the outlets to similar climate forcing is related to their different hypsometry, basal topography, and the presence of proglacial lakes. In the post-LIA period, the glacierized area decreased by 164 km2 (or from 1014 to 851 km2) and the glaciers had lost 10–30 % of their ~ 1890 area by 2010 (anywhere from 3 to 36 km2). The glacier surface lowered by 150–270 m near the terminus and the outlet glaciers collectively lost 60 ± 8 km3 of ice, which is equivalent to 0.15 ± 0.02 mm of sea-level rise. The volume loss of individual glaciers was in the range of 15–50%, corresponding to a geodetic mass balance between −0.70 and −0.32 m w.e. a−1. The annual rate of mass change during the post-LIA period was most negative in 2002–2010, on average −1.34 ± 0.12 m w.e. a−1, which is among the most negative mass balance values recorded worldwide in the early 21st century.

Citation: Hannesdóttir, H., Björnsson, H., Pálsson, F., Aðalgeirsdóttir, G., and Guðmundsson, Sv.: Changes in the southeast Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, between ~ 1890 and 2010, The Cryosphere, 9, 565-585,, 2015.
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