The ‘Little Ice Age’ advance of Nigardsbreen, Norway: A cross-disciplinary revision of the chronological framework
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Holocene. 2023 10.1177/09596836231185830
This study presents a cross-disciplinary revision of the Little Ice Age (LIA) advance of Nigardsbreen glacier, an outlet from Jostedalsbreen ice cap in western Norway. The associated glacier foreland is characterised by a well-preserved moraine series succeeding the 1748 CE LIA culmination, and a robust age control of individual moraines exists from abundant historical written and pictorial information as well as extensive lichenometric studies. The retreat dynamics of Nigardsbreen ever since the LIA maximum extent was attained is considered well-known. The timing of initiation of the LIA advance and dynamics of the glacier growth prior to reaching its maximum extent, however, is less understood as any moraines predating 1748 CE have been subsequently overridden. Potential archives available for exploring the glacier advance are therefore mostly confined to historical data such as for example, tax records, paintings, and church books, which has resulted in a present-day consensus of the LIA onset of Nigardsbreen c. 1710 CE. However, we show that a lack of adequate critical analysis on the accuracy of published historical data has allowed erroneous ages of glacier terminus positions to manifest in literature, resulting in for example, overestimated glacial advance rates. Here, we combine a novel data set of local tax load directly reflecting glacial impact on farming productivity with a cross-disciplinary assessment of published historical data, including rejection of several data points of former glacier extents. As a result, we present a revised glacier length curve for the LIA advance of Nigardsbreen towards its maximum extent.