The Little Ice Age glacier maximum in Iceland and the North Atlantic Oscillation: evidence from Lambatungnajokull, southeast Iceland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the link between late Holocene fluctuations of Lambatungnajökull, an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland, and variations in climate. Geomorphological evidence is used to reconstruct the pattern of glacier fluctuations, while lichenometry and tephrostratigraphy are used to date glacial landforms deposited over the past ˜400 years. Moraines dated using two different lichenometric techniques indicate that the most extensive period of glacier expansion occurred shortly before c. AD 1795, probably during the 1780s. Recession over the last 200 years was punctuated by re-advances in the 1810s, 1850s, 1870s, 1890s and c. 1920, 1930 and 1965. Lambatungnajökull receded more rapidly in the 1930s and 1940s than at any other time during the last 200 years. The rate and style of glacier retreat since 1930 compare well with other similar-sized, non-surging, glaciers in southeast Iceland, suggesting that the terminus fluctuations are climatically driven. Furthermore, the pattern of glacier fluctuations over the 20th century broadly reflects the temperature oscillations recorded at nearby meteorological stations. Much of the climatic variation experienced in southern Iceland, and the glacier fluctuations that result, can be explained by secular changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) Advances of Lambatungnajökull generally occur during prolonged periods of negative NAO index. The main implication of this work relates to the exact timing of the Little Ice Age in the Northeast Atlantic. Mounting evidence now suggests that the period between AD 1750 and 1800, rather than the late 19th century, represented the culmination of the Little Ice Age in Iceland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-80
Number of pages20
JournalBoreas
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Little Ice Age glacier maximum in Iceland and the North Atlantic Oscillation: evidence from Lambatungnajokull, southeast Iceland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this