Extreme glacier mass loss in 2017

The Glaciers in Hohe Tauern National Park experienced another year of extreme negative mass balance in the budget year 2016/2017.

Ausaperung_2017_02_1600The Austrian glaciers Pasterze (top), Kleinfleißkees (bottom left) and Goldbergkees (bottom right) at the end of August 2017, when the snow covered area on the glacier was at a minimum. Almost all the winter snow cover had been melted during the summer and the ice surface had been exposed to surface melt for a long time during June, July and August 2017.

Kleinflei-kees_Ausaperung_2014-2017_2000A comparison of the end of summer snow cover of Kleinfleißkees during the last 4 years shows, that the snow covered area on the glacier in 2017 was the smallest within the last 4 years and that even the firn covered area of the glacier in 2017 is smaller than in 2015.

AWS_Fotos_PAS_GOKThe automatic weather and mass balance station on Pasterze (left) measured more than 7 meters of ice thickness change, while the mass balance station on Goldbergkees (right) measured only 3.7 meters of ice ablation.

Grafik_Stationsdaten_2017_v2This diagram shows the development of the snow cover during the accumulation season and the ice melt in spring and summer. Due to less amount of winter snow, the ice surface at Pasterze was longer exposed to the atmospheric energy exchange than the ice at the station at Goldbergkees.

dh_2015-2017-Pasterze_300dpi_endAnnual ice thickness change at Pasterze glacier between 2015 and 2017 (coloured map) and ablation values at the stakes during 2017. The retreat of the rock free glacier snout within the last two years was more than 450 meters.