Icelandic climate and glacier fluctuations through the termination of the "little ice age"

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    Abstract

    Twentieth-century fluctuations of Icelandic glaciers reflect the climatic transition from the cool climate of the late "Little Ice Age" into the warm climate of the modern era. Changes in the length of six glaciers are compared to instrumental records of seasonal temperature, precipitation, and to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. The results indicate that shifts in the location and intensity of the Icelandic Low are associated with the regional retreat and subsequent readvance of the glaciers, but the detailed relationships are complicated by Iceland's location close to the fulcrum of the Greenland-Scandinavia climate "see-saw." In general, decades of cool, cloudy low-NAO index summers following decades of wet winters have caused late-20th-century glacier advances. Much larger glaciers prior to 1920 were favored by low-index summers and winters and generally colder temperatures in all seasons.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-133
    Number of pages18
    JournalPolar Geography
    Volume26
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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    Ice Cover
    Little Ice Age
    Ice
    glaciers
    Climate
    fluctuation
    glacier
    ice
    climate
    North Atlantic Oscillation
    Scandinavia
    Iceland
    glacier advance
    winter
    Greenland
    Scandinavian and Nordic Countries
    summer
    twentieth century
    temperature
    Temperature

    Cite this

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    Icelandic climate and glacier fluctuations through the termination of the "little ice age". / Kirkbride, Martin P.

    In: Polar Geography, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2002, p. 116-133.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    N2 - Twentieth-century fluctuations of Icelandic glaciers reflect the climatic transition from the cool climate of the late "Little Ice Age" into the warm climate of the modern era. Changes in the length of six glaciers are compared to instrumental records of seasonal temperature, precipitation, and to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. The results indicate that shifts in the location and intensity of the Icelandic Low are associated with the regional retreat and subsequent readvance of the glaciers, but the detailed relationships are complicated by Iceland's location close to the fulcrum of the Greenland-Scandinavia climate "see-saw." In general, decades of cool, cloudy low-NAO index summers following decades of wet winters have caused late-20th-century glacier advances. Much larger glaciers prior to 1920 were favored by low-index summers and winters and generally colder temperatures in all seasons.

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