EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Spatially distributed mass balance of 14 Icelandic glaciers, 1945−2017. Trends and link with climate.

Joaquín M. C. Belart1,2,3, Eyjólfur Magnússon1, Etienne Berthier2, Águst Þ. Gunnlaugsson1,4, Finnur Pálsson1, Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir1, Tómas Jóhannesson4, and Helgi Björnsson1
Joaquín M. C. Belart et al.
  • 1University of Iceland, Institute of Earth Sciences, Reykjavík, Iceland (
  • 2Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales,Université de Toulouse, CNES, F-31400 Toulouse, France
  • 3National Land Survey of Iceland, Akranes, Iceland
  • 4Icelandic Meteorological Office, Reykjavík, Iceland

Excluding the three largest ice caps, Icelandic glaciers have, until recently, received limited attention in terms of mass balance observations over the last century. In this study, mass balance estimates from 1945 to 2017 are presented, in decadal time spans, for 14 glaciers (total area 1054 km2) subject to different climatic forcing in Iceland. The mass balances are derived from airborne and spaceborne stereo imagery and airborne lidar, and correlated with precipitation and air temperature by a first order equation including a reference-surface correction term. This permits statistical modelling of annual mass balances and to temporally homogenize the mass balances for a region-wide, multidecadal mass balance study. The mean (standard deviation) mass balances of the target glaciers were −0.43 (0.17) m w.e. a−1 in 1945−1960, 0.01 (0.21) m w.e. a−1 in 1960−1980, 0.10 (0.23) m w.e. a−1 in 1980−1994, −0.98 (0.44) m w.e. a−1 in 1994−2004, −1.23 (0.57) m w.e. a−1 in 2004−2010 and 0.06 (0.35) m w.e. a−1 in 2010−2017. The majority of mass loss occured in 1994−2010, accounting for 22.5±1.6 Gt (1.4±0.1 Gt a−1). High decadal mass-balance variability is found on glaciers located at the south and west coasts,
in contrast to the glaciers located inland, north and northwest. These patterns are likely explained by the proximity to warm (south and west) versus cold (northwest) oceanic currents.

How to cite: Belart, J. M. C., Magnússon, E., Berthier, E., Gunnlaugsson, Á. Þ., Pálsson, F., Aðalgeirsdóttir, G., Jóhannesson, T., and Björnsson, H.: Spatially distributed mass balance of 14 Icelandic glaciers, 1945−2017. Trends and link with climate., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10150,, 2020.


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