Sensitivity of Svalbard glaciers to climate change


Sensitivity of Svalbard glaciers to climate change


We investigate the energy and the mass balance of an Arctic glacier (Kongsvegen, Svalbard) and their interactions with the atmospheric boundary layer. The approach is based on extensive meteorological and glaciological observations and numerical modelling. Simulations are performed in local and spatially distributed modes aiming at better understanding of the atmospheric and subsurface exchange processes and the response of the glacier to changes of the meso-scale atmospheric conditions. In this context we also study the skill of different data sets and methods to derive spatially distributed data for initialisation and forcing of snow/ice energy balance models.

This is supported by detailed investigations of the distribution and structure of snow along the glacier, which is also of importance for investigation of internal refreezing processes and their impact on the energy and mass balance of the glacier. The project is embedded in an international research network focusing on the sensitivity of Svalbard glaciers to climate change.


Project Leader:

Sauter Tobias

External Members:
Karner, Florian (PhD candidate)
Bilgeri, Florian (field assistant)
Steinkogler, Florian (field assistant)

Funding Agencies:
FWF – Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (grant I 369-B17)
ESF – European Science Foundation (PolarClimate)
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Polarforschung (Julius-Payer-Stipendium)
Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD-Grant FR10/2014)

Project Duration:
01/02/2010 to 31/12/2014



Jacobi, H. W.; Obleitner, Friedrich; Da Costa, Sophie; Ginot, Patrick; Eleftheriadis, Konstantinos; Aas, Wenche; Zanatta, Marco (2019): Deposition of ionic species and black carbon to the Arctic snowpack: combining snow pit observations with modeling.
In: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19/15, pp. 10361 - 10377. (Web link


Spolaor, A.; Barbaro, E.; Mazzola, M.; Viola, A.P.; Lisok, J.; Obleitner, F.; Markowicz, K.M.; Cappelletti, D. (2017): Determination of black carbon and nanoparticles along glaciers in the Spitsbergen (Svalbard) region exploiting a mobile platform.
In: Atmospheric Environment 170, pp. 184 - 196. (Web link)


Möller, M., F. Obleitner, C. H. Reijmer, V. A. Pohjola, P. Głowacki, and J. KohlerAdjustment of regional climate model output for modeling the climatic mass balance of all glaciers on SvalbardJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


Sauter, T., and F. ObleitnerAssessing the uncertainty of glacier mass-balance simulations in the European Arctic based on variance decompositionGeoscientific Model Development8


Zhao, M., J. Ramage, K. Semmens, and F. ObleitnerRecent ice cap snowmelt in Russian High Arctic and anti-correlation with late summer sea ice extentEnvironmental Research Letters9


Karner, F., F. Obleitner, T. Krismer, J. Kohler, and W. GreuellA decade of energy and mass balance investigations on the glacier KongsvegenJournal of Geophysical Research.118


Claremar, B., F. Obleitner, C. Reijmer, V. Pohjola, A. Waxegard, F. Karner, and A. RutgerssonApplying a Mesoscale Atmospheric Model to Svalbard GlaciersAdvances in Meteorology2012, G., F. Karner, C. Ritter, R. Neuber, K. Dethloff, F. Obleitner, J. Reuder, and T. FokenThe Near-Surface Small-Scale Spatial and Termporal Variability of Sensible and Latent Heat Exchange in the Svalbard Region: A Case StudyISRN Meteorology2012


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