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Geist, T., Stötter, J. and Wastl, M. (2000). Development and calibration of a quantitative model describing sea-ice - climate - glacier relationships in Northern Iceland. In: Russell, A.J. and Marren, P.M. (eds.), Iceland 2000: Modern Processes and Past Environments, Keele University, Department of Geography Occasional Papers Series, 21, 37-38.

Situated just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is the biggest land mass and the most important source of terrestrial records of environmental and climatic changes in the predominantly marine environment of the northern North Atlantic. Important atmospheric and oceanic boundaries such as the polar front and the southern limit of the North Atlantic sea-ice oscillate around Iceland. Thus Iceland lies in a key position for the understanding of the North Atlantic circulation system, which controls climatic conditions over wide parts of Europe.
The ca. 250 small glaciers of the Tröllaskagi and Flateyjarskagi peninsulas in Northern Iceland (see Fig. 1) react very rapidly to changes in temperature and precipitation, thus they provide high-resolution climate proxy data. The climatic parameters governing glacier behaviour in Northern Iceland are highly correlated to the occurrence of sea-ice around Iceland (Stötter et al., 1999; Wastl et al., in press). Therefore, the latter is an important element for the calibration of climate - glacier relationships in this area, and provides the link to the larger-scale North Atlantic atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Fig. 1: The research area - the Tröllaskagi and Flateyjarskagi peninsulas in Northern Iceland.

Aim of the project
Against this background, the aim of the new research project is the development and calibration of a quantitative model describing the relationships between sea-ice, temperature and precipitation conditions and glacier extents in Northern Iceland for the period since the mid-19th century, when continuous and homogeneous meteorological records in Iceland start.
As an additional result of the model calibration, a GIS-based glacier inventory following the standard of the UNESCO World Glacier Inventory is established for Northern Iceland.
Glacier extents in Northern Iceland in the second half of the 19th century are comparable to the maximum advances since the end of the Preboreal (see Stötter and Wastl, 1999). The established sea-ice - climate - glacier model thus allows quantitative reconstructions of climatic parameters on the basis of glacier history for the period before meteorological measurements. This improves the quality of Holocene palaeoclimatic reconstruction in this area.
A detailed Holocene glacier history has been established in Northern Iceland in recent years (see Stötter and Wastl, in press). While a simple pattern of sea-ice - climate - glacier relationships in Northern Iceland has been determined (Fig. 2), quantitative palaeoclimatic reconstructions on the basis of the glacier record are hampered by the lack of more sophisticated models of climate - glacier relationships. The adopted approach of relating glacier behaviour to temperature and precipitation guarantees that the climatic parameters reconstructed by means of this model can be compared to palaeoclimatic data based on other proxy records in Northern Iceland.

Sea-Ice Temperature Precipitation   Glacier
Equilibrium Line Altitude
+ - -   + -
- + +   - +

Fig. 2: Pattern of sea-ice - climate (temperature - precipitation) - glacier relationships in Northern Iceland (Stötter et al., 1999).

Stötter, J. and Wastl, M. (1999). Landschafts- und Klimageschichte Nordislands im Postglazial. Geographischer Jahresbericht aus Österreich, 56, 49-68.
Stötter, J., Wastl, M., Caseldine, C. and Häberle, T. (1999). Holocene palaeoclimatic reconstruction in Northern Iceland: approaches and results. Quaternary Science Reviews, 18, 457-474.
Stötter, J. and Wastl, M. (in press). Palaeoclimatic investigations in Northern Iceland - terrestrial reference for the variations in the system of ocean, atmosphere and ice distribution in the North Atlantic during the Holocene. Paläoklimaforschung/Palaeoclimate Research.
Wastl, M., Stötter, J. and Caseldine, C. (in press). The termination of the Little Ice Age - possible analogues for Holocene sea-ice - climate - glacier relationships in Northern Iceland. Climatic Change.
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