Eurasian Arctic Ice Shelves and Tidewater Ice Margins
Despite the presence of about 4000 km of marine-terminating glaciers and ice caps in the Eurasian Arctic, there are few floating ice shelves. Neither are there extensive areas of multi-year shorefast sea ice which might thicken into composite ice shelves themselves. The archipelagos of Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land contain some ice shelves in addition to grounded tidewater ice fronts. The largest Eurasian Arctic ice shelf was the Matusevich Ice Shelf, Severnaya Zemlya, at about 240 km2 with a drainage basin of about 1100 km2; this ice shelf largely broke up in 2012. In Franz Josef Land, a number of ice caps have smooth and very low surface gradient seaward margins, covering over 300 km2 or 2% of the total area of the ice caps in the archipelago. These low-gradient areas are located mainly in relatively protected embayments and produce large tabular icebergs of up to several kilometres in length. Whether individual areas are floating in hydrostatic equilibrium or are simply close to buoyancy, they provide the major modern source of tabular icebergs to the Barents Sea. Svalbard has about 860 km of coastal ice cliffs, but almost none of the ice margin appears to be afloat. There may be short periods, during the active phase of the surge cycle, where marine margins become afloat. Neither is there evidence that the margins of the marine-terminating glaciers on Novaya Zemlya are floating. Twenty-five to fifty percent of the bed of the three largest ice caps in the Eurasian Arctic lies below sea level. Thus, in a warming Arctic, the ice margin would eventually retreat onto land, curtailing mass loss by iceberg production and providing a break on rapid ice-cap disintegration through calving.
KeywordsIce shelves Tidewater glaciers Eurasian Arctic Icebergs Sea ice
Grants from the John Ellerman Foundation and the Arctic Environmental Program of ConocoPhillips supported parts of this work. Airborne radar campaigns to measure ice thickness in the Eurasian Arctic archipelagos were funded by a series of grants from the UK Natural Environment Research Council. Toby Benham, Evelyn Dowdeswell, Andrey Glazovsky, Jon Ove Hagen, Yuri Macheret and Martin Sharp are thanked for their helpful comments on the paper.
- Amundson, J. M., Fahnestock, M., Truffer, M., Brown, J., Lüthi, M. P., & Motyka, R. J. (2010). Ice mélange dynamics and implications for terminus stability, Jakobshavn Isbrae, Greenland. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115. doi: 10.1029/2009JF001405.
- Blaszczyk, M., Jania, J. A., & Hagen, J. O. (2009). Tidewater glaciers of Svalbard: Recent changes and estimates of calving fluxes. Polish Polar Research, 30, 85–141.Google Scholar
- Christoffersen, P., Mugford, R., Heywood, K. J., Joughin, I., Dowdeswell, J. A., Syvitski, J. P. M., Luckman, A., & Benham, T. J. (2011). Warming of waters in an East Greenland fjord prior to glacier retreat: Mechanisms and connection to large-scale atmospheric conditions. The Cryosphere, 5, 701–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dowdeswell, J. A. (1989). On the nature of Svalbard icebergs. Journal of Glaciology, 35, 224–234.Google Scholar
- Dowdeswell, J. A., & Bamber, J. L. (1995). On the glaciology of Edgeøya and Barentsøya, Svalbard. Polar Research, 14, 105–122.Google Scholar
- Dowdeswell, J. A., Bassford, R. P., Gorman, M. R., Williams, M., Glazovsky, A. F., Macheret, Y. Y., Shepherd, A. P., Vasilenko, Y. V., Savatyuguin, L. M., Hubberten, H.-W., & Miller, H. (2002). Form and flow of the Academy of Sciences ice cap, Severnaya Zemlya, Russian High Arctic. Journal of Geophysical Research, 107. doi: 10.1029/2000/JB000129.
- Dowdeswell, J. A., Dowdeswell, E. K., Williams, M., & Glazovsky, A. F. (2010). The glaciology of the Russian High Arctic from Landsat imagery. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 1386-F, 94–125.Google Scholar
- Govorukha, L. S., Semenov, I. V., Popova, N. M., Shamont’yeva L. A., & Bazheva, V. Ya. (1980) Chast’ 1. Severnaya Zemlya. In Katalog lednikov SSSR. Tom 16. Leningrad, Gidrometeoizdat, p. 5–49.Google Scholar
- Grosswald, M., Krenke, A. N., Vinogradov, O. N., Markin, V. A., Psariova, T. V., Razumeiko, N. G., & Sukhodrovsky, V. L. (1973). Glaciers of Franz Josef Land: Results of research under the programme of the International Geophysical Year. Moscow: Nauka.Google Scholar
- Hagen, J. O., Liestøl, O., Roland, E., & Jørgensen, T. (1993). Glacier atlas of Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Oslo: Norsk Polarinstitutt.Google Scholar
- Hagen, J. O., & Reeh, N. (2004). In situ measurement techniques: Land ice. In J. L. Bamber & A. J. Payne (Eds.), Mass balance of the cryosphere (p. 12–42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Hambrey, M. J. (1994). Glacial environments. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2013). Summary for policymakers. In T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, & P. M. Midgley (Eds.), Climate change 2013: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Jeffries, M. O. (2017). The Ellesmere ice shelves, Nunavut, Canada. In L. Copland & D. Mueller (Eds.), Arctic ice shelves and ice islands (p. 23–54). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-024-1101-0_2.Google Scholar
- Kubyshkin, N. V., Buzin, I. V., Glazovsky, A. F., & Skutin, A. A. (2006). Determination of the area of generation of big icebergs in the Barents Sea – temperature distribution analysis. In Proceedings of the Sixteenth International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference, San Francisco, May 28-June 2, 2006 (p. 634–638).Google Scholar
- Liestøl, O. (1973). Glaciological work in 1971. Norsk Polarinstitutt Årbok 1971. Oslo.Google Scholar
- Moholdt, G., Wouters, B., & Gardner, A. S. (2012a). Recent mass changes of glaciers in the Russian High Arctic. Geophysical Research Letters, 39. doi: 10.1029/2012GL051466.
- Reeh, N. (2017). Greenland ice shelves and ice tongues. In L. Copland & D. Mueller (Eds.), Arctic ice shelves and ice islands (p. 75–106). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-024-1101-0_4.Google Scholar
- Shumskiy, P. A. (1949). Modern glaciation of the Soviet Arctic. Trudy Arkticheskogo Instituta, 111, 11–39.Google Scholar
- Spizharskiy, T. N. (1936). Glaciation of Franz Josef land. Trudy Arkticheskogo Instituta, 36, 5–37.Google Scholar
- Voevodin, V. A. (1972). Dimension of icebergs in the region of Franz-Josef Land and Spitsbergen. Problemy Arktiki i Antarktiki, 39, 138–140.Google Scholar
- Zinger, Y. M., & Koryakin, V. S. (1965). Yest li schelfove lednike na Severnoy Zemle [are there ice shelves on Severnaya Zemlya?] (Russian). Materialy Glyatsiolicheskikh Issledovaniy, 11, 250–253.Google Scholar
- Zubin, G. K., Naumov, A. K., & Skutin, Y. A. (2005). Icebergs of the western sector of the Russian Arctic. In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions (POAC ‘05) (Vol. 2, p. 565–574, ISSN 2077-7841).Google Scholar