Many Scandinavian glaciers “gone in 20 years”

Glaciers in Norway have lost up to 40 metres in 2013

The latest annual survey by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate shows that 26 of Norway’s 33 biggest glaciers have retreated in 2013, in a process that is changing the landscape. Four are unchanged during the year and three gained in length.

Scientists are now warning that some glaciers could soon disappear altogether within the next 20 years.

“We fear that in 20 years’ time many of the smaller glaciers will be gone and this will have an impact  on how you see the landscape in Norway,” Hallgeir Elvehøy, a senior engineer at the directorate, told The Local.

The biggest decline in 2013 has been registered at Austre Okstindbreen, a glacier in northern Norway, shrinking by 40 metres during the year. Rundvassbreen, also in the far north, lost 37 metres and Stigaholten in central Norway lost 36 metres.

The trend has been much the same since the turn of the millennium, Elvehøy said. “The glacial areas have received less winter precipitation in the last eight years or so and we’ve had a lot of warm summers, and that combination is not good for glaciers,” he said.

The Local

[pictured: Austre Okstindbreen melting; photo courtesy Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate]