Science and earth science

Polish Polar Research

Content

Polish Polar Research | 2009 | vol. 30 | No 2 |

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to describe the current state of tidewater glaciers in Svalbard as an extension of the inventory of Hagen et al. (1993). The ice masses of Svalbard cover an area of ca 36 600 km2 and more than 60% of the glaciated areas are glaciers which terminate in the sea at calving ice-cliffs. Recent data on the geometry of glacier tongues, their flow velocities and front position changes have been extracted from ASTER images acquired from 2000-2006 using automated methods of satellite image analysis. Analyses have shown that 163 Svalbard glaciers are of tidewater type (having contact with the ocean) and the total length of their calving ice-cliffs is 860 km . When compared with the previous inventory, 14 glaciers retreated from the ocean to the land over a 30-40 year period. Eleven formerly land-based glaciers now terminate in the sea. A new method of assessing the dynamic state of glaciers, based on patterns of frontal crevassing, has been developed. Tidewater glacier termini are divided into four groups on the basis of differences in crevasse patterns and flow velocity: (1) very slow or stagnant glaciers, (2) slow-flowing glaciers, (3) fast-flowing glaciers, (4) surging glaciers (in the active phase) and fast ice streams. This classification has enabled us to estimate total calving flux from Svalbard glaciers with an accuracy appreciably higher than that of previous attempts. Mass loss due to calving from the whole archipelago (excluding Kvitřya) is estimated to be 5.0-8.4 km3 yr-1 (water equivalent - w.e.), with a mean value 6.75 ± 1.7 km3 yr-1 (w.e.). Thus, ablation due to calving contributes as much as 17-25% (with a mean value 21%) to the overall mass loss from Svalbard glaciers. By implication, the contribution of Svalbard iceberg flux to sea-level rise amounts to ca 0.02 mm yr-1. Also calving flux in the Arctic has been considered and the highest annual specific mass balance attributable to iceberg calving has been found for Svalbard.

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Authors and Affiliations

Małgorzata Błaszczyk
Jacek A. Jania
Jon Ove Hagen
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Abstract

Although the terrestrial marginal zones of some glaciers on Spitsbergen are relatively well described, we are largely ignorant about the morphology of their submarine forefields. Initial reconnaissance of the forefields of the Aavatsmark and Dahl glaciers in the Kaffiøyra region and soundings made in that of the Hans Glacier (southern Spitsbergen ) indicate the occurrence of sea-floor push-moraines which can be as much as 3 m high. Their lateral separation is considered to denote annual recession rates. They appear to result from cyclical annual advances of ice-cliffs during winters when the deposits are risen up at the contact of the ice with the sea-floor. The development of the major forms may be related to surge. There is some evidence that certain elements in the sea-bed morphology date from the Little Ice Age (LIA).

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Authors and Affiliations

Marek Grześ
Michał Król
Ireneusz Sobota
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Abstract

Soils, having a well-developed sequence of A and Bw horizons, are widespread on the uplifted marine terrace 8- 12 m a.s.l. in the proximity of Nottinghambukta Bay . The present-day origin of these soils is however questionable, while similarly developed soils, but buried under the cover of the youngest till were found on a forefield of the Werenskiold Glacier. To quantify an intensity of the soil-forming process under present climate conditions of SW Spitsbergen , the chronosequence of soils developed from the Recent, up to 70 year-old moraines, was studied on the forefield of Werenskiold Glacier. Significant dissolution of CaCO3, decrease of pH, leaching of calcium and magnesium, increase of amorphous iron content, as well as an accumulation of organic matter and initial formation of aggregate soil structure were observed within the surface layer of recent till. The 70 year-long period of pedogenesis was, however, too short for a distinct morphological differentiation of the subsurface B horizon. It is concluded, that deep and structural Bw horizons of some surface and buried soils are relicts of a much longer period of relatively warm climate before the last transgression of glaciers.

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Authors and Affiliations

Cezary Kabala
Justyna Zapart
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Abstract

104 specimens of notothenioid fishes of five species (Patagonotothen longipes, P. tessellata, Champsocephalus esox, Cottoperca trigloides and Patagonotothen brevicauda) caught at two sites in the Beagle Channel (Magellanic sub-region, sub-Antarctica) were examined for the presence of thorny-headed worms (Acanthocephala). Representatives of three fish species, Patagonotothen longipes, P. tessellata, and Champsocephalus esox, were infected. Fishes caught at the eastern mouth of the channel were infected with 180 echinorhynchids representing three species, Aspersentis johni (the most numerous species), Heterosentis heteracanthus, and Hypoechinorhynchus magellanicus, and only 12 cystacanths of four polymorphids, Andracantha baylisi, Corynosoma sp., Corynosoma beaglense, and Corynosoma evae. Patagonotothen longipes was the most highly infected in the eastern mouth of the channel (prevalence 85%, maximum intensity 26). Aspersentis johni was the dominant parasite species in this host (prevalence 85%, mean abundance 4.00, maximum intensity 18) and H. heteracanthus was the sub-dominant one (prevalence 50%, mean abundance 2.60, maximum intensity 25). The infections of C. esox were the most diverse (six parasite species - three echinorhynchids and three polymorphids). Fish caught near the city of Ushuaia were infected only with six cystacanths of C. evae (intensity one). Taking into account the whole sample, C. evae was the most abundant polymorphid, represented by 10 of 18 specimens found. Three species, H. heteracanthus, A. baylisi and C. evae, have been previously reported from the low western Antarctic (H. heteracanthus also from the Kerguelen sub-region of sub-Antarctic), remaining four species seem to be endemics of the Magellanic sub-region of sub-Antarctic.

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Authors and Affiliations

Zdzisław Laskowski
Krzysztof Zdzitowiecki

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