The Bøyabreen, Supphellebreen, Briksdalsbreen and Bødalsbreen glaciers all now lack a clearly defined terminus which can be used to determine their length.
“We are dependent on measuring directly at the blue ice at the front of the glacier but that has gradually become more difficult due to the retreat of the glacier and deposition of snow from avalanches,” Pål Gran Kielland, a senior lecturer at the Norwegian Glacier Museum, said in a statement.
Pictures of Bøyabreen Kielland brought back from this annual survey this autumn show the ice leading up to a bare rock cliff, where it vanishes completely.
“The part of the glacier we get data from now looks like a pile of snow,” he wrote.
The museum, a joint venture of the International Glacier Society, the Norwegian Energy and Water Directorate, the Norwegian Polar Institute, and three universities, has measured Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen annually since 2003 and 1992.
Hallgeir Elvehøy, an engineer with the Norwegian Energy and Water Directorate, which measures the other two glaciers, told NRK he had been facing similar issues.
“It’s sad. Measurements on Briksdalbreen, for example, started in 1899,” he said. “The glaciers are further back than they have been for an awfully long time. You’d have to go back to the Viking times, or 2,000 years back to find a climate as warm or glaciers as small.”
After visiting the glaciers this autumn, Kielland has decided from now on to rely on photographs to provide a visual record of the ice’s decline.
Below is a picture of the Supphellebreen glacier taken in 1884 (photo: Steensrup, K.J.D.)
And below is how the Supphellebreen glacier looks today (photo: Pål Gran Kielland).
Here's the Haugabreen Glacier in the 1930s (photo: NGU)
And here's how it looked in 2012 (Photo: Pål Gran Kielland).