Hørbyebreen surged in the 19th or early 20th century, as suggested by geomorphological evidences and looped medial moraines. In this study, we investigate its wide−spread geometry changes and geodetic mass balance with 1960 contour lines, 1990 and 2009 digital elevation models, in order to define the present−day state of the glacier. We also study its thermal structure from ground−penetrating radar data. Little is known about the glacier behaviour in the first part of the 20th century, but from its surge maximum until 1960 it has been retreating and losing its area. In the period 1960–1990, fast frontal thinning (2–3 m a −1 ) and a slow mass build−up in the higher zones (~0.15 m a −1 ) have been noted, resulting in generally negative mass balance (−0.40 ± 0.07 m w. eq. a −1 ). In the last studied period 1990–2009, the glacier showed an acceleration of mass loss (−0.64 m ± 0.07 w. eq. a −1 ) and no build−up was observed anymore. We conclude that Hørbyebreen system under present climate will not surge anymore and relate this behaviour to a considerable increase in summer temperature on Svalbard after 1990. Radar soundings indicate that the studied glacial system is polythermal, with temperate ice below 100–130 m depth. It has therefore not (or not yet) switched to cold−bedded, as has been suggested in previous works for some small Svalbard surge−type glaciers in a negative mass balance mode.
We test the application of dendrochronological methods for dating and assessing the environmental impacts of tsunamis in polar regions, using an example of the 21 November 2000 landslide−generated tsunami in Vaigat Strait (Sullorsuaq Strait), West Greenland. The studied tsunami inundated a c . 130 m−wide coastal plain with seawater, caused erosion of beaches and top soil and covered the area with an up to 35 cm−thick layer of tsunami deposits composed of sand and gravel. Samples of living shrub, Salix glauca (greyleaf willow) were collected in 2012 from tsunami−flooded and non−flooded sites. The tree−ring analyses reveal unambiguously that the tsunami−impacted area was immediately colonized during the following summer by rapidly growing shrubs, whilst one of our control site specimens records evidence for damage that dates to the time of the tsunami. This demonstrates the potential for dendrochronological methods to act as a precise tool for the dating of Arctic paleotsunamis, as well as rapid post−tsunami ecosystem recovery. The reference site shrubs were likely damaged by solifluction in the autumn 2000 AD that was triggered by high seasonal rainfall, which was itself a probable contributory factor to the tsunami−generating landslide.
A section of a gravel−dominated coast in Isbjørnhamna (Hornsund, Svalbard) was analysed to calculate the rate of shoreline changes and explain processes controlling coastal zone development over last 50 years. Between 1960 and 2011, coastal landscape of Isbjørnhamna experienced a significant shift from dominated by influence of tide−water glacier and protected by prolonged sea−ice conditions towards storm−affected and rapidly changing coast. Information derived from analyses of aerial images and geomorphological mapping shows that the Isbjørnhamna coastal zone is dominated by coastal erosion resulting in a shore area reduction of more than 31,600 m 2 . With ~3,500 m 2 of local aggradation, the general balance of changes in the study area of the shore is negative, and amounts to a loss of more than 28,000 m 2 . Mean shoreline change is −13.1 m (−0.26 m a −1 ). Erosional processes threaten the Polish Polar Station infrastructure and may damage of one of the storage buildings in nearby future.