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Active temperate glacial landsystem evolution in association with outwash head/depositional overdeepenings

Evans, David J.A.; Ewertowski, Marek W.; Tomczyk, Aleksandra; Chandler, Benjamin M.P.

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Marek W. Ewertowski

Aleksandra Tomczyk

Benjamin M.P. Chandler


The response of temperate glaciers to rapid climate warming is reflected in the geomorphology (landsystem) resulting from snout recession. This paper develops a locally diverse process-form model of active temperate glaciers through mapping and quantification of historical landscape change on the Fjallsjökull-Hrútárjökull foreland, SE Iceland. Quantification of volumetric and areal changes on the foreland are based on time series of archival aerial images for the period 1945–1998, high-resolution satellite imagery for 2014 and digital elevation models of differences derived from time series of UAV imagery for the years 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2022. Landscape change and glacier snout behaviour since 1945 highlights the importance of azonal and potentially intrazonal signatures in temperate glacial landsystems, particularly: (1) the development and collapse of partially supraglacial outwash fans to produce outwash heads fronting depositional overdeepenings; and (2) the emergence of ice-cored eskers that record the evolution of englacial drainage networks operating over overdeepenings. Such landform assemblages are manifested as substantial ice-cored/hummocky terrains, a characteristic of deglaciating forelands that is likely to be widely replicated wherever ice-contact glacifluvial assemblages create outwash heads that act as depositional overdeepenings. Due to its significantly greater supraglacial debris cover, complete de-icing of the Hrútárjökull snout in response to post-1945 warming was delayed until around 2014. This constitutes a prime example of incremental stagnation, which in a rapidly warming climate has resulted in significant landscape change (land surface elevation collapse of 0.8 m a−1) over the last 8 years.


Evans, D. J., Ewertowski, M. W., Tomczyk, A., & Chandler, B. M. (2023). Active temperate glacial landsystem evolution in association with outwash head/depositional overdeepenings. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 48(8), 1573-1598.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 23, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 24, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2023
Journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Print ISSN 0197-9337
Electronic ISSN 1096-9837
Publisher British Society for Geomorphology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 8
Pages 1573-1598
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Authors. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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