Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN2787

TitleFluctuations of tidewater glaciers in Hornsund Fiord
Investigator Blaszczyk, Malgorzata - Centre for Polar Studies, University of Silesia, Geomorphology
Team Member
dr Dariusz, Ignatiuk - Centre for Polar Studies, University of Silesia, Geomorphology
SummaryMore than 60% of glacierized area of Svalbard Archipelago in High Arctic is drained by glaciers emptying into the sea. The majority of Svalbard glaciers are known to have been in the retreat stage since the termination of the Little Ice Age (LIA) at the end of the 19th century. Dynamic response of glaciers to climate warming results in faster transfer of ice mass from land to the sea, and affects global sea level rise and thermohaline circulation. The main loss of ice mass is caused by glacier surface melt but significant part of about 30-40% is a result of ice discharge due to calving and glaciers recession. The primary aim of this project is to determine glaciers front positions from TerraSAR-X data and update the earlier work on long-term and seasonal front fluctuations of tidewater glaciers in Hornsund (Southern Spitsbergen). The maximum seasonal extent of glaciers occurs in June or July while the minimum position usually occurs in early winter (November–December). That is caused by varying calving rate along the year, sea temperature changes and presence of sea-ice in front of the glacier during the winter and spring. These seasonal changes complicate the interpretation of long records of front positions. In the project seasonal variations of tidewater glaciers will be correlated with oceanic and atmospheric data from field research conducted in Polish Polar Station in Hornsund. Secondly, TerraSAR-X data will provide minimal fronts positions during the winter, what improve analysis of long-term behavior of tidewater glaciers. Studies are conducted in a frame of Polish-Norwegian AWAKE-2 project (Arctic Climate System Study of Ocean, Sea Iceand Glaciers Interactions in Svalbard Area). The aim of the AWAKE-2 is to understand the interactions between the key components of the climate system in the Hornsund Fiord. TerraSAR-X data will extend earlier results of ERS SAR and Envisat analysis. Result will help in understanding of the relatively unknown factors controlling glacier calving and ice-cliff / ocean interactions. Temporal changes in front position over seasonal time-periods will be digitized manually. All result will be validated with field data from Hansbreen, one of the longest investigated glaciers in the Arctic. Funding for this work is provided by project AWAKE-2 (

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