Three receding glaciers on Spitsbergen were examined on the basis of a 1936 topographic map and field investigations during the summers of 1995 and 2001. Håbergbreen, the largest glacier, has undergone the most intensive recession due to its relatively low altitude. There are two important manifestations of glacial recession: (1) the retreating glaciers leave rocky outcrops in the upper or steeper mountain slopes, and (2) the edges of moving glacier tongues are being transformed into motionless ice-cored moraines in valleys. The glaciers under study have not been transformed into rock glaciers. The recession rate has been increasing since 1995, which can be interpreted as a result both of positive feedback initiated by 20th-century climate warming and of slight warming in the 1990s. The glaciers have not thawed enough in relation to the warming and rise of the equilibrium-line altitude (by at least 250–300 m since the beginning of the 20th century). Håbergbreen, already split up into four ice patches, will disappear without a sustained temperature decrease during the next few decades. Grumantbreen and Dryadbreen will survive as small mountain glaciers if winter snow precipitation does not increase.
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