Climatic Change

, Volume 59, Issue 1–2, pp 123–135 | Cite as

The Health of Glaciers: Recent Changes in Glacier Regime

  • Mark F. Meier
  • Mark B. Dyurgerov
  • Gregory J. McCabe


Glacier wastage has been pervasive during the last century; small glaciers and those in marginal environments are disappearing, large mid-latitude glaciers are shrinking slightly, and arctic glaciers are warming. Net mass balances during the last 40 years are predominately negative and both winter and summer balances (accumulation and ablation) and mass turnover are increasing, especially after 1988. Two principal components of winter balance time-series explain about 50% of the variability in the data. Glacier winter balances in north and central Europe correlate with the Arctic Oscillation, and glaciers in western North America correlate with the Southern Oscillation and Northern Hemisphere air temperature. The degree of synchronization for distant glaciers relates to changes in time of atmospheric circulation patterns as well as differing dynamic responses.


North America Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Circulation Circulation Pattern Southern Oscillation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adalgiersdottir, G., Echelmeyer, K. A., and Harrison, W. D.: 1998, ‘Elevation and Volume Changes on the Harding Icefield, Alaska’, J. Glaciol. 44, 570–582.Google Scholar
  2. Bahr, D. B., Meier, M. F., and Peckham, S. D.: 1997, ‘The Physical Basis of Glacier Volume-Area Scaling’, J. Geophys. Res. 102, 20355–20362.Google Scholar
  3. Bitz, C. C. and Battisti, D. S.: 1999, ‘Interannual to Decadal Variability in Climate and the Glacier Mass Balance in Washington, Western Canada, and Alaska’, J. Climate 12, 3181–3196.Google Scholar
  4. Bradley, R. S. and Serreze, M. C.: 1987, ‘Mass Balance of Two High Arctic Plateau Ice Caps’, J. Glaciol. 33, 123–128.Google Scholar
  5. Braun, C., Hardy, D. R., and Bradley, R. S.: 2001, ‘Recent Recession of a Small Plateau Ice Cap, Ellesmere Island, Canada’, J. Glaciol. 47, 154.Google Scholar
  6. Cao, M. S.: 1998, ‘Detection of Abrupt Changes in Glacier Mass Balance in the Tien Shan Mountains’, J. Glaciol., 44, 352–358.Google Scholar
  7. Cayan, D. R. and Peterson, D. H.: 1989, ‘The Influence of North Pacific Atmospheric Circulation on Streamflow in the West’, in Petersen, D. H. (ed.), Aspects of Climate Variability in the Pacific and Western Americas, Geophysical Monograph 55, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., pp. 375–397.Google Scholar
  8. Dyurgerov, M. B.: 2002, Glacier Mass Balance and Regime: Data of Measurements and Analysis, Occasional Paper 55, INSTAAR, University of Colorado, Boulder, 268 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Dyurgerov, M. B., Liu Shaohai, Xie Zichu (eds.): 1995, Oledenenie Tyan Shanya [Tien-Shan Glaciers], Publishing House ‘Nauka’, Moscow, 233 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Dyurgerov, M. B. and Meier, M. F.: 1997, Mass Balance of Mountain and Subpolar Glaciers: A New Global Assessment for 1961–1990, Arc. Alp. Res. 29, 379–391.Google Scholar
  11. Dyurgerov, M. B. and Meier, M. F.: 2000, ‘Twentieth Century Climate Change: Evidence from Small Glaciers’, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 97, 1406–1411.Google Scholar
  12. Ebbesmeyer, C. C., Cayan, D. R., McLain, D. R., Nichols, F.H., Peterson, D. H., and Redmond, K. T.: 1991, ‘1976 Step in the Pacific Climate: Forty Environmental Changes between 1968–1975 and 1974–1984’, Proceedings: Seventh Annual Pacific Climate Workshop, California Department of Water Resources, Interagency Ecological Studies Program, Asilomar, California, Report 26.Google Scholar
  13. Echelmeyer, K. A. et al.: 1996, ‘Airborne Surface Profiling of Glaciers: A Case-Study in Alaska’, J. Glaciol. 44, 538–547.Google Scholar
  14. Folland, C. K. and Parker, D. E.: 1990, ‘Observed Variations of Sea Surface Temperature’, in Schlesinger, M. E. (ed.), Climate-Ocean Interaction, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 21–52.Google Scholar
  15. Fraedrich, K. and Muller, K.: 1992, ‘Climate Anomalies in Europe Associated with ENSO Extremes’, Int. J. Climatology 12, 25–31.Google Scholar
  16. Haeberli, W., Hoelzle, M., and Suter, S.: 1998, Into the Second Century of Worldwide Glacier Monitoring-Prospects and Strategies, Studies and Reports in Hydrology, UNESCO, Paris, 227 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Hastenrath, S.: 1991, The Glaciers of Equitorial East Africa, D. Reidel Pub. Co., Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  18. Hastenrath, S.: 2002, ‘Past Glaciation in the Tropics: An update’, Clim. Change, this volume.Google Scholar
  19. Hodge, S. M., Trabant, D. C., Krimmel, R. M., Heinrichs, T. A., March, R. S., and Josberger, E. G.: 1998, ‘Climate Variations and Changes in Mass of Three Glaciers in Western North America’, J. Climate 11, 2161–2179.Google Scholar
  20. Horel, J. D. and Wallace, J. M., 1981: ‘Planetary-Scale Atmospheric Phenomena Associated with the Southern Oscillation’, Mon. Wea. Rev. 109, 813–829.Google Scholar
  21. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: 1992, Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment, Report Prepared for the IPCC by Working Group I, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 158 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Johnston, R. J.: 1980, Multivariate Statistical Analysis in Geography, Longman, New York, 280 pp.Google Scholar
  23. Kääb, A., Paul, F., Maisch, M., Hoelzle, M., and Haeberli, W.: 2001, ‘The New Remote Sensing Derived Swiss Glacier Inventory: II. First Results’, Proceedings Fourth International Symposium on Remote Sensing in Glaciology, Annals of Glaciology, Int. Glac. Soc.Google Scholar
  24. Kaser, G.: 1999, ‘A Review of the Modern Fluctuations of Tropical Glaciers’, Glob. Plan. Change 22, 93–103.Google Scholar
  25. Koerner, R. A. and Fisher, D. A.: 1990, ‘A Record of Holocene Summer Climate from a Canadian High-Arctic Ice Core’, Nature 343, 630–631.Google Scholar
  26. Koryakin, V. S.: 1988, Ledniki Arktiki (Arctic Glaciers), Publishing House ‘Nauka’, Moscow, 158 pp., in Russian.Google Scholar
  27. Lingle, C. S., Echelmeyer, K. A., Seider, W. A., Li, H., and Valentine, V. B.: 1999, ‘A New Estimate of Elevation and Volume Changes on Seward and Malaspina Glaciers, Southcentral Alaska and Yukon, from Small-Aircraft Laser Altimetry, ERS SAR Imagery, and the 15 min. DEM of Alaska’, EOS Trans. AGU 80, Fall Meet. Suppl., F355.Google Scholar
  28. Macheret, Yu. Ya., Glazovsky, A. F., Dowdeswell, J. A., and Gorman, M. R.: 1999, ‘Ice Volume Change on Franz Josef Land Archipelago in Last 40 Years’, Data of Glaciological Studies. Chronicle and Discussion, Moscow, 86, 107–115, in Russian.Google Scholar
  29. Mann, M. E., Bradley, R. S., and Hughes, M. K.: 1999, ‘Northern Hemisphere Temperatures during the PastMillenium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 759–762.Google Scholar
  30. Mayo, L. R. and Trabant, D. C.: 1984, ‘Observed and Predicted Effects of Climate Change on Wolverine Glacier, southern Alaska’, Proceedings, The Potential Effects of Carbon Dioxide-Induced Climatic Changes in Alaska, Miscellaneous Publication 83-1, School of Agriculture and Land Resources Management, Fairbanks Alaska: University of Alaska, 114–123.Google Scholar
  31. McCabe, G. J. and Fountain, A. G.: 1995, ‘Relations between Atmospheric Circulation and Mass Balance of South Cascade Glacier, Washington, U.S.A.’, Arctic and Alpine Res. 27, 226–233.Google Scholar
  32. McCabe, G. J., Fountain, A. G., and Dyurgerov, M.: 2000, ‘Variability in Winter Mass Balance of Northern Hemisphere Glaciers and Relations with Atmospheric Circulation’, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Res.. 32, 64–72.Google Scholar
  33. Meier, M. F. and Bahr, D. B.: 1996, ‘Counting Glaciers: Use of Scaling Methods to Estimate the Number and Size Distribution of the Glaciers of theWorld’, in Colbeck, S. D. (ed.), Glaciers and Ice Sheets: A Volume Honoring M. F. Meier, USA-CRREL Special Report 96-27, pp. 89–94.Google Scholar
  34. Meier, M. F. and Wahr, J. M.: 2002, ‘Sea Level is Rising-Do We Know Why?’, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 99, 6524–6526.Google Scholar
  35. Miller, A. J., Cayan, D. R., Barnett, T. P., Graham, N. E., and Oberhuber, J. M.: 1993, ‘The 1976–77 Climate Shift of the Pacific Ocean’, Oceanography 7, 21–26.Google Scholar
  36. Redmond, K. T. and Koch, K.W.: 1991, ‘Surface Climate and Streamflow Variability in the Western United States and their Relationship to Large Scale Circulation Indices’, Water Resour. Res. 27, 2381–2399.Google Scholar
  37. Sapiano, J. J., Harrison, W. D., and Echelmeyer, K. A.: 1998, ‘Elevation, Volume and Terminus Changes of Nine Glaciers in North America’, J. Glaciol. 44, 119–135.Google Scholar
  38. Thompson, D. W. J. and Wallace, J. M.: 1998, ‘The Arctic Oscillation Signature in the Wintertime Geopotential Height and Temperature Fields’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 1297–1300.Google Scholar
  39. Thompson, D.W. J. and Wallace, J. M.: 2000a, ‘Annular Modes in the Extratropical Circulation. Part I: Month-to-Month Variability’, J. Climate 13, 1000–1016.Google Scholar
  40. Thompson, D.W. J. and Wallace, J. M.: 2000b, ‘Annular Modes in the Extratropical Circulation. Part II: Trends’, J. Climate 13, 1018–1036.Google Scholar
  41. Thompson, L. G.: 2002, ‘Tropical Glacier and Ice Core Evidence of Climatic Change on Annual to Millennial Time Scales’, Clim. Change, this volume.Google Scholar
  42. Trenberth, K. T.: 1990, ‘Recent Observed Interdecadal Climate Changes in the Northern Hemisphere’, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 71, 988–993.Google Scholar
  43. Vinogradov, O. N., Konovalova, G. I., and Psareva, T. V.: 1976, ‘Novie dannye o glaziogeomorfologii sovremennykh lednikov Kavkasa I ikh evolyutsii v XX veke (New data on glaciogeomorphology of modern glaciers of Caucasus and their evolution in XX century)’, Data of Glaciological Studies, Chronicle and Discussion, Moscow, 27, 44–50, in Russian.Google Scholar
  44. Wilby, R.: 1993, ‘Evidence of ENSOin the Synoptic Climate of the British Isles since 1880’, Weather 48, 234–239.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark F. Meier
    • 1
  • Mark B. Dyurgerov
    • 2
  • Gregory J. McCabe
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ColoradoU.S.A.
  2. 2.University of ColoradoU.S.A
  3. 3.U.S.A

Personalised recommendations