Plateau icefields as contributing areas to valley glaciers and the potential impact on reconstructed ELAs: a case study from the Lyngen Alps, North Norway

Brice Reid Rea, W B Whalley, T S Dixon, J E Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Plateau icefields occur commonly in glacierized areas and not uncommonly in glaciated mountains. We report on a glacierized area of plateaux and valleys centred round the highest peak Jiehkkevarri (1833 m) in the maritime Lyngen Alps, North Norway. Some valley glaciers are fed by steep, narrow plateau glacier outlets and/or ice avalanching from the plateaux over precipitous cliffs. Plateaux must therefore be considered as "contributing areas", if they supply ice to valley systems below. Equilibrium line altitudes (ELAs) are calculated for the valley glaciers during the Little Ice Age (LIA), accounting for both input and no input of ice from plateaux above. The results show that ELAs may be at significantly higher altitudes when plateau/x are contributing ice mass. The response of plateau glaciers to climate amelioration since the end of the LIA is somewhat different to that of valley glaciers, which appear to be retreating markedly. These findings have significant implications for the interpretation of moraine systems, glacier dynamics, the construction and reconstruction of present and former ELAs, and palaeoclimates in glacierized and glaciated mountain plateau areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • ICE

Cite this