Methodological proposal for the analysis of the evolution of glaciers since the Little Ice Age and its application in the Tröllaskagi Peninsula (northern Iceland)

J.M. Fernández-Fernández, N. Andrés


In this paper we propose a methodological sequence for the study of glaciers and climate change, and for the use of glaciers as indicators of climatic evolution. Our proposal includes different techniques focused on: mapping glacier extents at different dates, measuring front variations, calculating areas and volumes, analyzing glacier Equilibrium-Line Altitudes (ELA), statistical treatment of climate series, and the application of glacier-climate models that relate temperature and precipitation and enable paleoclimate reconstruction. This methodology was tested by remote monitoring of three highly sensitive debris-free glaciers in the Tröllaskagi peninsula (northern Iceland) since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the results show an average retreat of 1.3 km as well as a reduction in area and volume of 25% and 33% as a result of the warming that began at the end of the LIA. The application of the glacier-climate models suggests a climate that was up to 49% less humid at the LIA maximum. The bibliographic review of the methods utilized enables us to validate our methodological proposal and the results obtained, and ensures its application in different areas of study.


glaciers; climatic change; paleoclimatic reconstruction; Little Ice Age; Tröllaskagi; Iceland

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