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

‘Little Ice Age’ maxima and glacier retreat in northern Troms and western Finnmark, northern Norway

Joshua Leigh1, Chris Stokes1, David Evans1, Rachel Carr2, and Liss Andreassen3
Joshua Leigh et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK (;;
  • 2School of Geography, Politics, and Sociology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (
  • 3Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Oslo, Norway (

Glaciers are important indicators of climate change and observations worldwide document increasing rates of mountain glacier recession. Here we present ~200 years of change in mountain glacier extent in northern Troms and western Finnmark. This was achieved through: (1) mapping recent (post-1980s) changes in ice extent from remotely sensed data and (2) lichenometric dating and mapping of major moraine systems within a sub-set of the main study area (the Rotsund Valley). Lichenometric dating reveals that the Little Ice Age (LIA) maximum occurred as early as AD 1814 (±41 years), which is before the early-20th century LIA maximum proposed on the nearby Lyngen Peninsula, but younger than the LIA maximum limits in southern and central Norway (ca. AD 1740-50). Between LIA maximum and AD 1989, the reconstructed glaciers (n = 15) shrank by 3.9 km2 (39%), with those that shrank by >50% fronted by proglacial lakes. Between AD 1989 and 2018, the total area of glaciers within the study area (n = 219 in AD 1989) shrank by ~35 km2. Very small glaciers (<0.5 km2 in AD 1989) show the highest relative rates of shrinkage, and 90% of mapped glaciers within the study area are <0.5 km2 as of AD 2018.

How to cite: Leigh, J., Stokes, C., Evans, D., Carr, R., and Andreassen, L.: ‘Little Ice Age’ maxima and glacier retreat in northern Troms and western Finnmark, northern Norway, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3905,, 2020


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