Vertical variations of oxygen isotopes in the snow which accumulates during the winter at the Norwegian glacier Austre Okstindbreen are not entirely eliminated after 1-2 months of ablation in the following summer. Survival of isotopic signals closely relates to the re-freezing capacity of snow accumulated in winter when its temperature was below 0°C. The meltwater re-freezes in layers formed in winter hindered subsequent meltwater percolation in summer when snow temperature was at melting point and, therefore, varied isotopic record was reserved between these ice layers. The isotopic record in snowpack can provide an estimate of the approximate trend of the most recent winter season temperatures. The relationship between regional temperature changes and б18O values in the snowpack is affected by many natural factors, but 1989-90 (a glacier balance year) winter air temperatures were reflected in the snow which remained on the glacier Austre Okstindbreen at an altitude of 1,350 m in July 1990. There was larger amplitude of variations of б 18O values in the 4.1 m of snow above the 1989 summer surface, but variations in the underlying firn were relatively small. Meltwater percolation modifies the initial variations of б 18O values in the snowpack. At a site below the mean equilibrium line altitude on Austre Okstindbreen, increased isotopic homogenization within a ten-day period in July accompanied an increase of the mean б 18O value. Although the isotopic record at a temperate glacier is likely to be influenced by more factors than is that at polar glaciers, it can provide an estimate of the approximate trend of recent local temperature variations.

This content is only available as a PDF.