Reconstruction of former glacier equilibrium-line altitudes based on proglacial sites: an evaluation of approaches and selection of sites
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Various approaches are used to record variations in glacier activity and equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) based on proglacial sites (lacustrine and terrestrial). These approaches are based on a conceptual model of glacier-meltwater induced sedimentation in which the minerogenic (nonorganic) component of the sediments is related to the occurrence of a glacier in the catchment. The principal coupling to former glacier activity and ELAs is common for these approaches. However, different methods and techniques may complement each other, and both possibilities and limitations are demonstrated. Site selection for reconstructing variations in glacier activity/ELAs is evaluated and critical factors are discussed. Rerouting of glacier meltwater streams across local watersheds in combination with proglacial sites gives a distinct on/off signal for former glacier activity/ELAs. Together with representative lateral moraines of known age, local watersheds are important for calibrating reconstructed glacier activity/ELAs based on a chain of proglacial lakes. Based on the ‘modern analogue principle’, various proxies can record whenever glaciers existed in a catchment. In a chain of proglacial lakes with different sensitivity to record variations in glacier activity/ELAs, these proxies can be calibrated against independent records. For one-site approaches, however, variations in glacier activity/ELAs depend on the interpretation and sensitivity of the proxies used.