Past glacier change on Svalbard

The aim of this project is to study Holocene glacier variations in Svalbard by investigating glacial geomorphology and sediment cores from proglacial lakes. The glacial history can be deciphered from the on/off signal of glacial sediments that we find in so called proglacial threshold lakes; when the ice margin advances into the catchment of a lake, rock flour from glacial erosion is washed into the lake and results in deposition of minerogenic sediment. Once the ice margin retreats out of the catchment, deposition in the lake will change from minerogenic to organic rich. In the sediment cores it is possible to date this transition and constrain the timing of the ice advance.

We are interested in investigating 1) whether glacial advances were due to mass balance changes forced by climate change or triggered by changes in ice dynamics and 2) if we can find a circum-Svalbard spatial pattern in Holocene glacier expansion


This project has been running since 2015 and is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, The Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund and The University Centre in Svalbard. The project is run in collaboration with Anders Schomacher, Tromsø University (UiT), Ólafur Ingolfsson, University of Iceland, Skafti Brynjólfsson, Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Wesley Farnsworth, University of Iceland, Lis Allaart, UiT, Sofia Kjellman, UiT, Erik Holmlund, UNIS

Holocene History of Svalbard Ice Caps and Glaciers (SVALICE)