Frequently asked questions

Why is there so much melting?

There is so much melting because of 3 reasons: 1) global warming due to carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere; 2) the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation brings less winter snowfall, 3) the presence of the lake caused increasing subglacial melting during the retreat but also provided a fine grained sediment base over which the glacier rapidly advanced over during its 1987-1996 advance.

Was this much melting expected?

The glacier in Norway retreated at approximately 100m per year for the three years we studied it, so although a high melting rate was expected, a warm autumn led to approx. 50m retreat during the summer.

What does this mean for the Glacsweb project?

The Norwegian glacier is now be too steep and dangerous to work on, so the project moved to another glacier.

Does this glacier tell us something about others in the world?

By charting the dramtic break up of Briksdalsbreen we can predict what may happen to other rapidly melting glacier, particularly the outlet glaciers of Greenland, whose discharge has an important control on the thermohyline circulation, and thus the climate of North West Europe.

What did the data from the probes tell you about the glacier?

1) During the early spring, the glacier wakes up are there are diurnal changes in glacier stress and water pressure. 2) That during spring and early summer the glacier moves by basal sliding, but in August deformation of the till beneath the glacier is a significant component of glacier flow and the clasts rotate within the till (subglacial sediment). 3) That as the glacier retreats the glacier becomes ‘wetter’ (more englacial channels, more water filled crevasses and more subglacial water bodies).