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Observational History of an Outlet Glacier in Southern Iceland
Mackintosh, A.N., Dugmore, A.J. and Hubbard, A.L.  2002.  Holocene climatic changes in Iceland: evidence from modeling glacier length fluctuations at Solheimajokull.  Quaternary International 91: 39-52.

What was done
Among other things, the authors report what is known about the history of the Solheimajokull outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull ice cap located on the southern coast of Iceland.

What was learned
In 1705, the glacier had a length of approximately 14.8 km; and by 1740, its length had grown to 15.2 km.  Thereafter, however, the glacier began to shrink, exhibiting a length of only 13.2 km in 1783.  Rebounding rapidly, the glacier returned to its 1705 position by 1794; and by 1820 it equaled its 1740 length.  This maximum length was maintained for about the next half-century, after which the glacier began a slow retreat that continued to about 1932, when its length was approximately 14.75 km.  The glacier then wasted away more rapidly, reaching a second minimum-length value of approximately 13.8 km at about 1970, whereupon it began to rapidly expand once again, growing to about 14.3 km in length by 1995.

What it means
The current position of the outlet glacier terminus is by no means unusual.  In fact, it is about midway between its maximum and minimum positions of the past three centuries.  It is also interesting to note that the glacier has been growing in length since about 1970 and that, in the words of the authors, "the recent advance (1970-1995) resulted from a combination of cooling and enhancement of precipitation."

These observations from high northern latitudes, where global warming is supposed to be most evident, provide no evidence for that dramatic phenomenon, which is supposed to be wreaking havoc on the planet.  Indeed, they suggest nothing whatsoever out of the ordinary.

Reviewed 21 August 2002