A surge of Skobreen, Svalbard

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Sund, Monica (2006)

Surging glaciers are common in Svalbard yet relatively few glaciers have been observed during a surge. This paper presents observations of the currently surging glacier Skobreen, in southern Spitsbergen. The study is based on examinations of new and archival photographs and maps. Skobreen, an 18 km2 valley glacier terminating into the lower part of the glacier Paulabreen, has not been registered previously as a surging glacier. Skobreen experienced a build-up in its upper part, while there has been a lowering of the surface in the terminal region. Photographs from 1990 show incipient crevassing in the upper part. Photographs from 2003 show a slight advance of the terminus and marginal crevassing, indicating an initiation period of about 15 years for a surge of this glacier. In June 2005 transverse crevassing appeared in the upper part of the glacier, while the middle section moved as a block with strong shear margins and a pronounced drawdown of the ice surface. No traces of a surge front could be seen in the crevasse pattern. However, the crevasse pattern indicates an initiation area in the transition zone between the transverse crevassing in the upper part and the block of ice in the middle region.
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