Nordenskioldbreen (NBreen)

This project involves monitoring of glacier mass balance (using stakes), flow velocity (using GPS units), weather conditions (using automatic weather stations) and firn aquifer conditions (using pressure sensors in boreholes and radar) on Nordenskiöldbreen/Lomonosovfonna in central Svalbard.

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Project type

  • field work
  • long-term monitoring
  • arctic field grant (afg)
  • sios
  • ipy


  • cryosphere

Project Keywords

  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / glacier motion/ice sheet motion
  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / glacier mass balance/ice sheet mass balance
  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / firn

Fieldwork information

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The Nordenskioldbreen project is currently a monitoring station and a part of the ESF-PolarClimate ( and a part of the Nordic Council of Ministers Top level research initiative Center of Excellence SVALI ( The project was a part of IPY-GLACIODYN, and under the Lomonosovfonna ice cores/ice dynamics umbrella. The main motivation of the project is to monitor and predict the future of the large ice field Lomonosovfonna, with its 20 km long outlet glaciers, of which Nordenskioldbreen is one of the largest. Oslo University started the measurements in 1991 which covered a series of altimetry and ice velocity studies until 1997. In 2002 Uppsala University continued the project, which intensified in 2006 when Utrecht University installed continuously recording devices which includes automatic weather station and GPS units. The following observations are done on the glacier: mass balance measurements, shallow and deep radar studies, temperature and snow/firn stratigraphy observations, shallow ice core studies. In April 2019, we will perform additional firn aquifer observations on Lomonosovfonna. Logistical support for this will be provided by SIOS (project nr. 2018_00010). Inspired by the earlier discovery of a firn aquifer on Holtedahlfonna (Christianson et al., 2015) in western Svalbard, we performed ground-penetrating measurements on Lomonosovfonna in 2015, revealing the presence of an extensive firn aquifer. In the years after additional ground penetrating radar observations were done to further map the extent of the aquifer, and most recently (April 2018) we have installed continuous pressure sensors in two boreholes drilled into the firn aquifer to measure water table depth and seasonal evolution of the firn aquifer. We plan to collect the data in April 2019, and reinstall pressure sensors for continued monitoring of firn aquifer evolution. We additionally plan to repeat ground penetrating radar measurements done in previous years, in order to enable detection of distributed long-term changes in water table depth. The firn aquifer data will provide valuable data for calibrating and validating numerical models to simulate firn aquifer development in a changing climate.

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