The pace of climate change observed since the beginning of the industrial era has prompted scientists to seriously consider whether human activity is to blame for global warming. On the geological timescale, however, climate change is certainly nothing new or exceptional – as is clear when one looks at the record of plant and animal fossils.
The current climate warming results in a quick recession of glaciers on the northern slopes and valleys of the Lindströmfjellet-Hĺbergnuten mountain ridge in Nordenskiöld Land. The equilibrium line altitude has risen from c. 500-550 m in 1936 to c.750 m in 2001 and c. 800 m in 2006. The slopes, almost completely glaciated during the Little Ice Age, and even in 1936, have mostly been abandoned by glaciers afterwards. The upper parts of the glaciers undergo a clear retreat diminishing their accumulative (firn) fields. The lower parts of the active glacial tongues have been transformed into marginal zones built of dead ice covered with morainic and glacifluvial deposits. The surfaces of the marginal zones are progressively lowered due to ablation of dead ice. The state of the described glaciers is not balanced under the current climatic conditions. Thus, the landscape transformation of the mountain ridge will most certainly continue.
A glacier lake outburst flood occurred on James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula region, during the 2004-2005 austral summer season. The source lake was located on the Lachman II ice-cored rock glacier, and formed prior to 1980. The size of the lake has been increasing gradually since the 1990s. The lake basin extended to approximately 220 m in length and 160 m in width by the end of February 2005. We observed that the lake had drained by February 2005, and found a deep gully on the south side of the lake rim. It appears that the lake level rose and water overflowed the lake rim here. James Ross Island contains a large number of debris-covered glaciers, ice-cored moraines, and rock glaciers with glacier lakes which are dammed by these features or which form upon them. As climatic warming has recently been reported for this region, further glacier lake outburst floods seem likely to occur.