Holocene glacier history of Svalbard: Retracing the style of (de-)glaciation

Holocene glacier history of Svalbard: Retracing the style of (de-)glaciation

Top image: Wesley Farnsworth collecting in situ vegetation melting out from a cold-based ice margin during an August 2017 field campaign. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS

UNIS PhD candidate Wesley Farnsworth has studied the Holocene glacial history of Svalbard through detailed mapping and compiling a mosaic of data from terrestrial, marine and lacustrine sedimentary archives. Farnsworth will defend his doctoral thesis on 6 December at the University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS.

27 November 2018
Press release from UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)

Prior to this doctoral project, landforms and deposits from glaciers re-advancing during the Late Holocene have been the primary focus of Holocene glacial studies in Svalbard. Farnsworth concludes, Svalbard glaciers have exhibited at least two phases of widespread re-advances, one during the Early Holocene (a period in time typically associated with ice retreat) and another throughout the entire Late Holocene. Farnsworth´s work highlights deposits from Early Holocene glacier re-advances across Svalbard. These deposits correspond to a diverse range of glacier sizes and with our current level of age constraint, these ice marginal fluctuations do not appear synchronous. Early Holocene glacier re-advances appear to relate to the time-transgressive nature of deglaciation. Thus, the re-advances correspond to glacio-dynamics (not mass balance) and reflect the complex style of ice mass-loss during a changing climate.

Modified oblique aerial photograph from 1938 from an altitude of 2900 m.a.s.l. above the eastern margin of Valhallfonna with a view to the south down Lomfjorden. The bay of De Geerbukta and the Fakse moraine system are located in the foreground. Source: The Norwegian Polar Institute

Modified oblique aerial photograph from 1938 from an altitude of 2900 m.a.s.l. above the eastern margin of Valhallfonna with a view to the south down Lomfjorden. The bay of De Geerbukta and the Fakse moraine system are located in the foreground. Source: The Norwegian Polar Institute

About the project
The thesis presents new geomorphological and sedimentological results from mapping of terrestrial, marine archives in Svalbard. Furthermore, it reviews all chronological ages of Holocene glacier and climate records from Svalbard and summarizes the current state of the art. Research presented in this thesis contributes to a better understanding of the glacier fluctuation throughout the last 12,000 years in Svalbard.

PhD defense
Wesley Farnsworth will defend his thesis entitled “Holocene glacier history of Svalbard: Retracing the style of (de-)glaciation” at 13:15 on Thursday 6 December. He will give a trial lecture entitled “Global sea level changes within the Quaternary: observations and models” at 10:15 the same day. Both lectures will take place in Lassegrotta, UNIS/Svalbard Science Centre, Longyearbyen.

The committee consists of Associate Professor Dr. Nicolaj Krog Larsen, Dept. of Geoscience, Aarhus University, Denmark (1. opponent); Marine Geophysicist Dr. Kelly Hogan, Researcher at British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge United Kingdom (2. opponent); and Professor Dr. Jan Sverre Laberg, and Head of Department Matthias Forwick, Department of Geosciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Internal member and leader of the committee).

The thesis work has been supervised by Prof. Ólafur Ingólfsson from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and University of Iceland, Prof. Anders Schomacker from UiT The Arctic University of Norway and Prof. Michael Retelle from Bates College and the University Centre in Svalbard.

This doctoral project has been generously supported by the UNIS internal research fund, Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund, Carlsberg Foundation, Arctic Research and Studies, ResClim Research School, Arctic Field Grant from the Svalbard Science Forum and Letterstedtska Föreningen.

Wesley FarnsworthAbout the candidate
Wesley Farnsworth was born 1987 in Portland, Maine and raised in Vermont USA. He has been based in Svalbard since January 2010 after attending Arctic Geology bachelor courses; completing his undergraduate studies at Bates College (2011) and Masters of Science at the University of Oslo and UNIS (2013). Farnsworth started his doctoral thesis December 2014 at The University Centre in Svalbard and UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

E-mail: WesleyF@unis.no

 

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