Glacier dynamics in Svalbard fjords

Waggonwaybreen glacier in MagdalenefjordenWaggonwaybreen glacier in Magdalenefjorden, June 2015. Photo: Inger Lise Næss/UNIS

Top image: Waggonwaybreen glacier in Magdalenefjorden. Photo: Inger Lise Næss/UNIS

Anne Elina Flink has studied marine terminating Svalbard glaciers and the traces they have left in the geological record. Flink will defend her PhD thesis on Tuesday 19 September at UNIS.

12 September 2017
Press release from the University of Bergen and the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)

What happened to the Svalbard glaciers in the past? What traces do glaciers leave in the geological record? How can these be used to understand past glacier fluctuations? And most importantly, why have glaciers fluctuated?

When a marine terminating glacier advances, it creates a new set of landforms on the seafloor. These can, together with sediment cores and radiocarbon dates, be used to reconstruct past ice sheet and glacier behaviour.

The aim of this study is to reconstruct late Weichselian, deglacial and Holocene glacial history in the previously poorly studied northeastern Svalbard. Submarine data shows that the fjords and bays in northeastern Svalbard were occupied by fast flowing ice during the last glaciation and experienced a subsequent rapid deglaciation.

Presently, many of Svalbard’s fjords accommodate surging tidewater glaciers, i.e. glaciers which advance due to internal dynamics independently of climatic change. This study shows that the surge history of Svalbard’s glaciers is diverse. Some glaciers have experienced several surges in recent times, whilst others have surged in early Holocene. Their submarine landform assemblages share many similarities, but also display differences, indicating that local conditions are important in the evolution of glacial surges. The data further suggests that climatic/environmental changes might have played a role in surge dynamics.

Anne Elina Flink will defend her PhD thesis entitled “Glacier dynamics in the fjords of Svalbard, inferred from submarine landforms and marine sediment cores” on Tuesday 19 September at 13:15. She will give a trial lecture entitled: “Current and future sea level rise in the context of past global ice dynamics and sea level histories” at 10:15 the same day. Both lectures will take place in Lassegrotta, UNIS, Svalbard Science Centre.

Supervisors have been Associate Professor Riko Noormets (UNIS) and Haflidi Haflidason (UiB).

About the candidate
Anne Elina Flink was born in 1988 in Sweden. She has always been fascinated by mountains and glaciers and acquired her master’s degree in glaciology in 2013, from the Stockholm University and the University Centre in Svalbard.

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