Glaciology research

Arial view of the glacier Kronebreen in Svalbard
Photo: Elvar Ørn Kjartansson / Norwegian Polar Institute

Ny-Ålesund is an ideal site for glaciological research; despite its remote location, it provides an excellent logistical base for fieldwork programmes. Apart from large ice caps, the area around Ny-Ålesund offer most types of glaciers found in Svalbard and the high Arctic: fast-flowing, surge type, polythermal, and calving glaciers. Two Ny-Ålesund glaciers, Midtre Lovénbreen and Austre Bøggerbreen, have among the longest Arctic mass balance time-series in the world.

The Glasiology Flagship was established as part of the NySMAC Science plan for Ny-Ålesund at a workshop in Sommarøy, Norway in 2011. The flagship documents provides an overview of main scientific topics, knowledge gaps and suggestions for common integrated glaciology efforts. 

Flagship document

Many relevant long-term measurements exist for these glaciers as well as the surge-type glacier Kongsvegen, and the tidewater glacier Kronebreen, part of the Holthedalfonna glacier system. The presence of glaciers with positive snow accumulation, such as Holtedahlfonna, together with a long record of mass balance measurements permit the recovery of ice core samples for paleoclimate reconstruction. The presence of annual snow, generally until the end of May, also makes Ny-Ålesund an ideal site to study snow evolution processes and to evaluate interaction between surface snow and atmosphere.

Prioritized research fields

  • Glacier mass balance
  • Glacier dynamics
  • Glacier hydrology
  • Annual snow layer evolution
  • Interaction between snow and atmosphere
  • Ice cores (for climate and contaminant studies)
  • Glacier biogeochemistry
The map shows 11 glacier mass balanse monitoring sites in Svalbard, where the year indicate the starting year.
Glacier mass balanse monitoring in Svalbard with responsible institutes. The year indicate the starting year.  Figure: Jack Kohler / Norwegian Polar Institute

Involved groups

Glacier monitoring

  • Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway. PI: . Mass balance for glaciers near Ny-Ålesund
  • University of Oslo, Norway. PI: .
  • CNRS, Universite de France-Comte, France. PI:
  • Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland. PI:
  • NCAOR, India. PI:
  • Wuhan University, PI:

Snow monitoring

  • Norwegian Polar Institute, PI:
  • University of Oslo, PI:

Upcoming activities

1–3 November 2016

NÅGLAMB – Ny-Ålesund GLAcier Mass Balance workshop in Oslo, Norway

The workshop is a SSF-funded workshop concerning glacier mass balance. The primary aim of the workshop will be to bring together researchers from the five international groups studying glacier mass balance in the Ny-Ålesund area. Secondary aims are to promote better collaboration and cooperation between these groups, and to integrate the field studies with modelling efforts, through inclusion of selected members of the Svalbard modelling community.