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The 20th-Century Behavior of Southeast Icelandic Glaciers
Reference
Bradwell, T., Dugmore, A.J. and Sugden, D.E. 2006. The Little Ice Age glacier maximum in Iceland and the North Atlantic Oscillation: evidence from Lambatungnajokull, southeast Iceland. Boreas 35: 61-80.

What was done
The authors examined the link between late Holocene fluctuations of Lambatungnajokull (an outlet glacier of the Vatnajokull ice cap of southeast Iceland) and variations in climate, using geomorphological evidence to reconstruct patterns of glacier fluctuations and using lichenometry and tephrostratigraphy to date glacial landforms created by the glacier over the past four centuries.

What was learned
Bradwell et al. report "there is a particularly close correspondence between summer air temperature and the rate of ice-front recession of Lambatungnajokull during periods of overall retreat," and that "between 1930 and 1950 this relationship is striking." They also report that "ice-front recession was greatest during the 1930s and 1940s, when retreat averaged 20 m per year." Thereafter, they say the retreat "slowed in the 1960s," and they report "there has been little overall retreat since the 1980s."

The researchers also report that "the 20th-century record of reconstructed glacier-front fluctuations at Lambatungnajokull compares well with those of other similar-sized, non-surging, outlets of southern Vatnajokull," including Skaftafellsjokull, Fjallsjokull, Skalafellsjokull and Flaajokull. In fact, they find that "the pattern of glacier fluctuations of Lambatungnajokull over the past 200 years reflects the climatic changes that have occurred in southeast Iceland and the wider region."

What it means
Bradwell et al.'s findings suggest that 20th-century summer air temperature in southeast Iceland and the wider region peaked in the 1930s and 1940s, and was followed by a cooling that persisted through the end of the century. This thermal behavior is about as different as one could imagine from the climate-alarmist claim that the warming of the globe over the last two decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the past two millennia; and especially is this so for a high-northern-latitude region, where climate alarmists claim CO2-induced global warming should be earliest and most strongly expressed.

Apparently, Iceland and many other high-latitude regions "just don't get it." Or is it the climate alarmists that suffer this malady, failing to realize (or, worse yet, refusing to acknowledge) that many key parts of the world that are supposedly super-sensitive to greenhouse-gas forcing are just not responding to anthropogenic CO2 emissions the way they say they should?

Reviewed 28 June 2006