Kleinfleisskees is a small glacier in the Hohe Tauern region in the eastern Austrian Alps. The glacier had an area of 0.87 km2 in 2004 (Binder, 2006). The glacier is located adjacent to the Sonnblick Observatory (3106m), which has both a long term climate record and a webcam.The mass balance of this glacier has been assessed since 1999 (Hynek et al, 2011). From 1999-2012 the glacier has lost 7 m of water equivalent, which is over 8 m of glacier thickness. (WGMS). Unger et al. (2012) produced a map of the changes in this and other nearby glaciers from 1850 to 2009 that was published by WGMS. Here we examine changes in the glacier from 1990 to 2013 using Landsat and Google Earth imagery.
Unger et al (2012) Map of glacier change.
In each image the red arrow indicates the 1990 terminus and the yellow arrow an outcrop of rock that emerges after 1990. In 1990 the glacier extends to a small lake, red arrow. This terminus tongue is 200 meters wide and 300 meters long. At the yellow arrow the annual snowcover has been lost and glacier ice is exposed. In 2001 the terminus tongue has nearly disappeared and the glacier no longer reaches the lake. The yellow arrow again indicates a location where snowcover has been lost and a large area of glacier ice exposed, with the hint of bedrock emerging. By 2013 the glacier terminus tongue is gone, the glacier has retreated 400 m from the 1990 position, with most of the retreat occurring by 2005. An area of bedrock has emerged at the yellow arrow as the glacier ice covering of this location has been lost. Retreat from 2006-2013 was minor according to the WGMS and the Austrian Alpine Club Inventory. In 2012 this survey found 94 glaciers in retreat and 2 stationary out of 96. In 2012 and 2014 glacier mass balances have been quite negative on the glacier, which will fuel more retreat. The glacier lost nearly its entire snowpack in 2014 as seen from the webcam at Sonnblick Observatorium on August 9th. Fortunately several late summer snowstorms prevented high ablation after this date. This glacier does continue to have significant crevassing indicating a good flux towards the terminus in the Google Earth image of 2006. The glaciers retreat is similar to that of Hochalm, Oschentaler and Rotmoosferner.
1990 Landsat image
2001 Landsat image
2013 Landsat image
Sonnblick Observatorium image from 8/9/2014
Google Earth image from 2006.
The Obersulzbach Glacier, is situated in the uppermost part of the Obersulzbach Valley, which feeds the Salzach River system in Austria. The Salzach is fed by many glaciers covering over 100 square kilometers (Koboltschnig and Schoner, 2011). These glaciers melt all summer providing considerable runoff to the numerous hydropower projects along the Salzach, that can produce 260 MW of power. The Verbund Power Plant producing 13 MW is seen below, at blue arrow. The glacier has receded in a narrow bedrock basin since the late 1990’s and a shallow lake, Obersulzbach-Gletschersee, has formed since 1998 (Geilhausen et al, 2012). (Geilhausen et al, 2012) observed that in 2009, the lake had an area of 95,000 m2 with a maximum depth of 42 m. Nick Fisher sent me a map of the glacier prepared by the Austiran Military in the early 1930’s this is compared to the GE image of the glacier from 2000, below. The green arrow indicates the 1930’s terminus extending due east from the nose of a ridge and the blue arrow parallels a prominent ridge somewhat above the terminus. The pink arrow in these images and in the Landsat images further below indicates the 1988 terminus position, the yellow arrow the mid section of a glacier tongue from the west that rejoined the main terminus in 1988, the orange arrow the top of a cliff where the eastern tributary ended in 1988. As Nick has noted: Since 1934,the glacier has retreated about 1.6 km,from a terminus at 1980 m, and the proglacial lake lies just behind where once was a magnificent ice fall known as the Turkische Zeltstadt (Turkish Tent City). The Zeltstadt is now a series of waterfalls. According to my map, in 1934 the ice was at least 150 m deep over the current lake surface,where all the glacier streams united before heading down the ice fall.
The World Glacier Monitoring Service reports indicate the glacier retreated 140 meters from 1991-2000 and 345 m from 2001-2010. Here we examine Landsat imagery from 1988, 1998, 2011 and 2012 to identify the retreat of this glacier and formation of the new lake. The pink arrow in each image indicates the 1988 terminus position, the yellow arrow the mid section of a glacier tongue from the west that rejoined the main terminus in 1988, and the orange arrow the top of a cliff where the eastern tributary ended in 1988. By 1998 a small lake less than 100 m long has formed at the end of the glacier. By 2011 and 2012 the lake has grown to a length of 450 m and a with of over 200 meters. The main terminus has retreated 450 to 500 m in the last 25 years. The western tongue at the yellow arrow no longer connects to the main terminus in 1998. By 2011 and 2012 the western tongue is separated by 600 meters from the main terminus. The eastern tongue has retreated 400 m from the cliff by 2012.
A closeup view of the terminus in 2003 from Google Earth indicates the lake development in three small locations around the terminus at the blue arrows. This glaciers retreat fits the pattern of other glaciers in the Austrian Alps, Oberaar Glacier, Rotmoosferner and Ochsentaler.
The Hallstatter Glacier (also sometimes called Dachstein Glacier along with the Gosau Glacier) is on the north slope of Dachstein an area of heavy recreational use. The result is good photographic records of glaciers change. This record combined with a recent cooperative project between University of Innsbruck, Blue Sky Weather Analysis and Energie AG Upper Austria provides a good snapshot of glacier change in northern Austria. The glacier begins at 2800 meters and descends to 2200 meters, image below from University of Innsbruck. This project has compiled the annual terminus change of the glacier from 1950-2007, in the image below. The retreat from 1950-1975 averaged 8 meters per year. A period of minor readvance from 1977-1991 occurred, followed by increasingly rapid retreat from 1992-2007 averaging over 10 meters per year in the last decade. Total retreat has been 350 meters from 1950-2007. Over the last century the change is chronicled in the two images, 1900 and 2007, from the Dachstein Project and the 2009 margin is traced in a Google Earth Image, blue line. This project was undertaken because of the importance of the glacier runoff to hydropower production along the Traun and Gosau Watersheds in particular. The change in terminus via mapping from 1969-2002 is evident in the Innsbruck image (2002), the Google Earth image is from 2009. There is thinning particularly of the width of the two main terminus tongues.The mass balance of the glacier has been measured since 2007, every year has had negative balances. In 2011 the snowline was again high, snowpack very limited at the end of the melt season which persisted into October. An Ikonos image from October 2, 2011 indicates that 30-35 percent of the glacier is snowcovered, this is the AAR and it needs to be at 60 for equilibrium.