The mass balance and equilibrium line altitude trends of glaciers in northern Sweden
Abstract: Glaciers are of extreme importance since they hold climatic data going back 2,000 years. Glaciers can provide important services such as ecosystem services, habitats, water runoff, and hydro-energy. They also affect the Earth’s processes and many feedback mechanisms. Glaciers all over the world are under the threat of climate change which may eventually lead to the disappearance of many of these important glaciers. That is why it is important to understand glaciological processes and to understand how individual glaciers are affected by climatic changes. This study focuses on the glaciers in northern Sweden and their response to climatic changes over a 15 year period (1986-2011). Data from the Tarfala research station, in northern Sweden is used to find trends in winter and summer mass balance, net mass balance and equilibrium line altitude. The reasons for similarities and differences in the trends are discussed and the glacial parameters are compared with parameters such as elevation, location, and aspect. Overall it was found that the winter balances were decreasing, the summer balances were increasing and the net mass balances were decreasing which results in a loss of mass on all glaciers. The differences amongst the glaciers were attributed to differences in altitude, location and climate. Also, R2 values and p-values showed that a significant relationship exists between the net mass balance and the summer temperature proving that the summer temperature is the main factor affecting mass loss or gain on glaciers in northern Sweden. Although the aim of the study was achieved, there were some limitations to it such as lack of or incomplete data, missing parameters and limited factors considered and compared. Future studies should include wind speeds and direction, solar radiation and humidity to name a few. Also, not only should the net mass balance and equilibrium line altitudes be analysed, but thickness, volume and frontal positions should be considered.
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