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Recent climatic trends and local glacier margin fluctuations in West Greenland


Recent climatic trends in the Arctic have been characterised by a general cooling between the mid-1950s and the late-1960s, followed by a return to warmer conditions in the early 1970s (refs 1,2). Throughout the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and at Thule in north-west Greenland a marked decrease in summer temperature occurred after 1963, and winter precipitation increased3,4. These changes were accompanied by a lowering of the average July freezing level height by as much as 500 m (ref. 5), decreased glacier mass loss4 and increased glaciation3. Here I report similar climatic trends in West Greenland and demonstrate different glacier responses, in particular an advance of cirque and small valley glaciers since about 1968, contrasting with a simultaneous retreat of larger valley and icefield outlet glaciers.

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    Dickson, R. R., Lamb, H. H., Malmberg, S. -A. & Colebrook, J. M. Nature 256, 479–482 (1975).

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    Bradley, R. S. & Miller, G. H. Nature 237, 385–387 (1972).

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    Bradley, R. S. & England, J. Arct. Alp. Res. 10, 715–731 (1978).

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    Weidick, A. Meddr Grønland 165, 1202 (1968).

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    Gordon, J. E. Arct. Alp. Res. (submitted).

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