Hornbreen-Hambergbreen Retreat Svalbard

Hornsund is a fjord that in 2010 almost cuts through the southern Island of Svalbard. The Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy have maintained a Polish Research Station in Hornsund since 1957. The 1984 map, from the University of Silesia, of the glaciers and geomorphology document the extent of the glaciers in 1983. At that time the eastern end of Hornsund was fronted by a single glacier terminus comprised of the Sotrbreen (ST), Hornsbreen (HO), Svalisbreen (SV) and Mendelejevbreen (ME). By 2010 retreat has led to the separation of these four glaciers. The top image is the map superimposed on the Landsat image both below, from commenter Andylee. Pälli et al (2003)in a joint University of Oulu, Finland and University of Silesia noted that Hornbreen has retreated by 13.5 km from the central part of the front, and Hambergbreen (HA) by 16km from 1901-2000. As part of this project surveys of the basal topography beneath the glaciers was examined.
Moore et al, 2003) found that there is not a below sea level connection underneath the Hornbreen-Hamberbreen divide that would separate Sorkappland from Torrelland. The ice divide of Hornbreen-Hambergbreen is below the local snowline at 300 m and Pälli et al (2003) indicate that this connection cannot survive current climate. Kvamstø et al (2011) in a Bergen University led study noted the melt season had increased by more than two weeks in Svalbard from 192-2010. In 1983 the distance from the terminus of the Hornbreen to the terminus of Hambergbreen was 17 km. In 2010 the distance is 9 km, as seen below. . A comparison of locations in the 1983 map and the 2010 Landsat image indicate the retreat from 1983 to 2010 has been approximately 5.5 km for Storbreen, 6 km for Hornbreen, 3 km for Svalisbreen and 1.5 km for Mendelejevbreen. . The retreat of the glaciers at the head of Hornsund follow the pattern of other glacier in the region Nannbreen and Hansbreen.


Retreat of Nannbreen, Svalbard

Nannbreen is a 5 km long land terminating glacier in southwest Svalbard. The glacier is just north of Hornsund. During the course of the 20th century Nannbreen retreated from its Little Ice Age moraine complex forming a new proglacial lake. The glacier ends at an elevation of 150 meters descending from 600 meters, the snowline in several Landsat images from the last decade has been 400-450 meters. By 2000 (first image below)the glacier had retreated 750 meters from the moraine complex and the glacier ended in a lake, that was over 500 meters long. In 2010 (second image below) the glacier had retreated out of the lake, 250 meters of retreat in 10 years, 1000 meters of retreat in the last century. Certainly the 21st century retreat rate is far above the average 20th century retreat rate. Most of the large glaciers in Svalbard are tidewater calving glaciers, such as the nearby Hansbreen, which retreated 400 meters from 2000-2005. Svalbard glaciers have been losing considerable volume, indicative of negative mass balance and glacier retreat. Nuth et al (2010) concluded that over the past 40 years for Svalbard ice loss is 9.71 ± 0.55 cubic kilometers/year. This is an average thinning of 0.36 meters/year for an annual contribution to global sea level rise of 0.026 mm yr.