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The Norwegian Glacier Museum offers entertainment and education for the whole family. The Norwegian Glacier Museum is a official visitor centre of the Jostedalsbreen National Park.


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Filtering by Tag: Supphellebreen

Data series from glacier measurements under threat

Pål Gran Kielland

The measurements of annual front position changes has discovered that 2 of 4 glaciers may be difficult to survey properly in the future.

Since 2003 and 1992 the Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen glaciers in Fjærland, respectively, has been part of our glacier length change surveys. We are dependent on measuring directly at blue ice in the glacier fronts, but that has gradually been more difficult to do, due to glacier retreat and deposition of snow from avalanches. The part of the galcier we get data from is actually what looks like a pile of snow, the regenerated glacier, below the ice fall. The measurements are no longer representative for how the glaciers develop, so we got no data on these glaciers in 2015. Consequently, we still take photos every year to at least record the visual changes of the glaciers.

Bøyabreen in October 2015. Photo: Pål Gran Kielland.

But we still have two glaciers we can survey, the Vetle Supphellebreen Glacier and the Haugabreen Glacier. The former is located far up the Supphelledalen Valley. Here we measure directly on blue ice so there are no questions about this one, which advanced 8 metres in 2015. In total since 2011 it has retreated 14 metres. Since our data series only stretch back to 2011, we can't make conclusions on its behaviour concerning climate change just yet. But we know there exist data series from 1899 to 1944 where the glacier retreated over 400 metres. We also found an old picture which we can use to compare with today's situation. The pictorial evidence is clear; there is less ice today.

Vetle Supphellebreen Glacier in 1884 (photo: Steensrup, K.J.D.) and in 2015 (photo: Pål Gran Kielland).

The Haugabreen Glacier is not part of the Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap, as the three former mentioned glaciers, but it is connected to a seperate smaller ice cap called the Myklebustbreen Glacier. This glacier is located in Jølster. During the past year we found that Haugabreen Glacier retreated 7 metres. Not a big number, but in total 20 metres since we started the data series in 2013. As with Vetle Supphellebreen Glacier it is difficult to make conclusions regarding climate change, but it fits with the overall long time trend with a warmer climate and shrinking glaciers. Also here we have time series some years back in time, from the period 1933 to 1940. During those years the glacier retreated 237 metres. Additionally, we also hav an old picture which tells us about glacier retreat.

Haugabreen Glacier in the 1930s (photo: NGU) and in 2012 (photo: Pål Gran Kielland).

Now we are just entering the winter and the glaciers accumulation season. For the coming years they need large amounts of snow to withstand the increasing temperatures during melt season in the summer.