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TitleMass balance of ice caps in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Arctic Canada: 2014-2015
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorBurgess, D OORCID logo
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Open File 8223, 2017, 36 pages, Open Access logo Open Access
LinksAmerican Meteorological Society
LinksWorld Glacier Monitoring Service
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedThis publication is related to the following publications
File formatpdf
ProvinceNorthwest Territories; Nunavut
NTS38F; 38G; 48E; 48F; 48G; 48H; 69G; 69H; 88G; 88H; 120B; 120C; 340A; 340D; 560B
AreaCanadian Arctic Archipelago; Queen Elizabeth Islands; Devon Island; Melville Island; Meighen Island; Ellesmere Island
Lat/Long WENS-128.0000 -56.0000 84.0000 74.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; Nature and Environment; glaciers; icefields; glacier surveys; ice thickness; ablation; climate; sea level changes; meteorology; remote sensing; satellite imagery; LANDSAT imagery; basin analyses; Devon Ice Cap; Meighen Ice Cap; South Melville Ice Cap; Agassiz Ice Cap; Sverdup Glacier; Drambuie Glacier; Climate change; monitoring; Phanerozoic; Cenozoic; Quaternary
Illustrationslocation maps; satellite images; sketch maps; time series; tables; graphs
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Essential Climate Variable Monitoring
ProgramPolar Continental Shelf Program
Released2017 05 10
AbstractIn-situ glacier mass balance surveys were conducted by Natural Resources Canada in April/May 2016 across the Devon, Meighen, South Melville, and Agassiz Ice Caps, Queen Elizabeth Islands. Survey results indicate significantly negative values over all ice caps in the 2014-2015 mass balance year with Meighen and Melville Ice Caps experiencing the fourth most negative mass balance year on record thinning by -115 and -89 cm respectively while the Devon Ice Cap, which thinned by -39 cm, experienced the sixth most negative year on record. After the relatively cool summers of 2013 and 2014, extremely negative mass balance values for 2014-2015 are more consistent with the post-2005 trend during which melt rates of high Arctic glaciers have been 3-5 times more negative than the long-term (1960-2013) average. The climatic net mass balance measurements from the Agassiz and Devon (NW) Ice Caps indicated an increase of the Equilibrium Line Altitude by 300 m and 400 m respectively relative to the long-term means. Associated water equivalent mass loss of 0.68, 0.052, and 0.053 Gt for the Devon (NW), Meighen, and South Melville Ice Caps respectively indicate a net positive contribution to global sea-level rise from these three sites for the 2014-2015 balance year.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This open file reports on the in-situ glacier mass balance surveys conducted by Natural Resources Canada across 4 ice caps (Meighen, Melville, Agassiz, and Devon ice caps) in the Canadian Arctic as part of an ongoing monitoring program to assess climatic conditions (ie. snow accumulation and summer melting) and freshwater fluxes to the ocean originating from glacier sources across this region. Results from the 2016 surveys indicate that basin-wide balances for the Meighen, Melville, and Devon ice caps 4-6 times more negative than the long-term average. A ~300 m increase of the Equilibrium Line Altitude across the Agassiz ice cap relative to the long-term mean similarly reflects unusual warming, particularly at high elevations across this region. After the relatively cool summers of 2013 and 2014, extremely negative mass balance values for 2014-2015 indicate a return to the post-2005 conditions during which time melt rates have been higher across the Canadian high Arctic than in several millennia.

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