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paul-1970


Posts: 15
Joined: Jul 2009
Last Visited: 11:19
18th Dec 2018
The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 11.23hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
Two simple questions:

1. How high would a 'collected elevation rise' of the higher areas of the UK have to be in order to see glacier regeneration again?

2. At the minimum glacial level of collected elevation rise, would the first glacier regenerate in Garbh Choire Mor, or would Observatory Gully also regenerate? Anywhere else?

The 'answer' has always been in my mind as a round-figured 5000 feet level, or another 300m or so increase in height, but I'd be interested to know if there have been any real scientific evaluations or experiments to find the current minimum glacial level.

I've used the rather clumsy phrase "collected elevation rise". By this I mean if plate techtonics were able to work overnight and bestow a collected 300m (for example) increase of elevation across the island of Britain. I know this throws up very complicated problems as far as affecting the shape and extent of the hills, and so vexing the question of where snow may lie at an higher altitude. But more simply put the question could be re-phrased "If the current semi-permanent snows in Observatory Gully / Garbh Choire Mor were 300m higher would there be a glacier flowing down the slope?

The final caveat to my (otherwise simple!) questions are the snow deposits would need to be actual flowing glaciers, as defined scientifically, rather than permanent snowfields that shrink and expand with the seasons. I know the current snowfields we have are semi-permanent, but unfortunately they shrink almost to the absolute minimum, of course (and in some bad years , shrink completely).



Edited 2 times. Last edit at 11.28hrs Wed 5 Sep 12 by paul-1970.
Doug_Bryce


Posts: 1372
Joined: Jan 2003
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 12.56hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
Norway is probably the best point of reference...

I think the most southerly norwegian glacier is the Folgefonna near Bergen (altitude 1622 metres / 5321 feet) at similar latitude to Orkney. Interestingly the ice flows as low as 600m / 2000 feet!

[maps.google.co.uk]



Edited 1 times. Last edit at 13.01hrs Wed 5 Sep 12 by Doug_Bryce.
SimonW


Posts: 17
Joined: Nov 2010
Last Visited: 10:57
24th Oct 2016
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 14.39hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
Ref your final question glacier ice is defined by the density of ice.

Snowfall gets compressed into neve, then firn and then eventually glacial ice.

I don't think the ice has to actually 'flow' to be classed a glacier as many the tiny cirque glaciers in the Pyrenees and Balkan mountains don't flow.
Chionophile


Posts: 692
Joined: Jan 2009
Last Visited: 22:07
24th Jan 2016
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 14.41hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
Gordon Manley (1949, The snowline in Britain. Geografiska Annaler Vol 31, 242-261) estimated that a permanent snowline would occur at about 1620 m altitude if Ben Nevis exceeded this altitude. He also estimated that for a true glacier to develop, the firn line would have to descend well below the summit of Ben Nevis, perhaps as low as 1200 m over a considerable number of years. In WEATHER (1971, Scotland's semi-permanent snows, Vol 26,November issue), he wrote that for glacial ice to flow, an ice thickness of well in excess of 100 ft, perhaps approaching 150 ft, is required. So, 1620 m was the minimum needed for a permanent snow cap, but one would need a higher altitude for accumulated snow to form firn and then ice. Folgefonna is similar in altitude, as in Doug Bryce's post, to Manley's minimum altitude for a snowcap on Ben Nevis. However, Folgefonna has a colder and longer winter with fewer thaws than the Scottish hills. Manley emphasised Ben Nevis because he knew it better, and of course we know that the Cairngorms get fewer thaws and colder winters than at the same altitudes on Ben Nevis. However, even in the Cairngorms one would obviously need hills of more than 1620 m to form a glacier that moves downhill. Maybe 1700 m would do the trick. Manley (1949 again) reckoned that it was unlikely that any true glaciers have developed in Britain since about 8300-7800 years BC, and that the last of these may have dwindled away soon after 6800 BC.
Bomp


Posts: 171
Joined: Nov 2010
Last Visited: 20:15
24th Nov 2020
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 15.10hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
I've always reckoned that the Cuillins could fit reasonably well on the cairngorm plateau if you knocked off a few rough edges.
This would clearly more than exceed the necessary altitude, and would surely provide great glacier skiing on, for instance, the glacier flowing from Coire Bhasteir down Coire na Ciste.

Such a mountain range would be a great tourist attraction, and as an investment would easily repay the cost of the removal work. Sgitheanachs might complain, and would need to be compensated, but I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem.
SimonW


Posts: 17
Joined: Nov 2010
Last Visited: 10:57
24th Oct 2016
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 15.30hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
LOL!


daveski


Posts: 1506
Joined: Jan 2008
Last Visited: 10:01
28th Apr 2019
What's this?What's this?What's this?
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 16.21hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
I think every person that visits Cairngorm should take a rock from the Strath and place it on the Cairn - Hey you could make a film about it - oops thats been done
edog2009


Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009
Last Visited: 08:15
24th Jul 2017
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 19.30hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
I've written about this topic extensively on my blog: [www.edwardboyle.com]
Doug_Bryce


Posts: 1372
Joined: Jan 2003
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 19.54hrs on Wed 5 Sep 12
^ that is a very good read... thumbs up



Edited 1 times. Last edit at 19.54hrs Wed 5 Sep 12 by Doug_Bryce.
WelshWizard


Posts: 215
Joined: Feb 2009
Last Visited: 13:20
3rd May 2015
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 00.03hrs on Thu 6 Sep 12
Not forgetting the Patagonian Ice Field which flows into the sea at latitudes similar to Cornwall.
firefly


Posts: 2149
Joined: May 2006
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 13.45hrs on Thu 6 Sep 12
For those hoping to witness the birth of a Scottish glacier in their lifetimes, bear in mind the 1700 year old 'snow patch' in Japan, called Kuranosuke (picture here). This looks about to be the best that we can hope for, but our descendants will have to worry about that! Unless there's a cool down of enormous proportions then we'll be rummaging around the hills in 30-40 years looking for the same dirty wee snow patches in the same places! I'm not holding my breath...
paul-1970


Posts: 15
Joined: Jul 2009
Last Visited: 11:19
18th Dec 2018
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 14.03hrs on Thu 6 Sep 12
Some wonderful and fascinating posts and articles in reply here, thank you so much for the enormously intersting reading!

It does look gloomy for dreamers such as myself to look forward to glacier regeneration in my life time. It looks like the wonderfully barmy idea of transplanting the Cuillin hills onto the Cairngorm plateau might be the best way forward.

Except - and rather more feasibly - if the Gulf Stream is affected by ice melt in the poles and the North Atlantic Drift goes askew... This won't, of course, raise the elevations, but it probably will decrease the average temperatures, in the UK at least... smiling smiley

A naive hope there, I know. It would also wreak all kinds of natural disaster, most likely. But the parochial hope of glacier regeneration (initial stages albeit) would probably bear fruit!
firefly


Posts: 2149
Joined: May 2006
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 19.41hrs on Thu 6 Sep 12
paul-1970 Wrote:
Except - and rather more feasibly - if the Gulf Stream is affected by ice melt in the poles and the North Atlantic Drift goes askew... This won't, of course, raise the elevations, but it probably will decrease the average temperatures, in the UK at least...

That is almost certainly the most likely, though still far fetched... smiling smiley
SimonW


Posts: 17
Joined: Nov 2010
Last Visited: 10:57
24th Oct 2016
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 12.01hrs on Sun 21 Aug 16
.



Edited 1 times. Last edit at 14.50hrs Mon 22 Aug 16 by SimonW.
SimonW


Posts: 17
Joined: Nov 2010
Last Visited: 10:57
24th Oct 2016
Re: The return of the Albion glaciers
Date Posted: 12.33hrs on Sun 21 Aug 16
I recently visited the Pirin mountains in Bulgaria which are home to the most southerly glacier mass in Europe below the north face of Vihren (2914m). Sited at an altitude of 2430-2480m it survives well below the snowline in this part of Europe.

It is named Snezhnika and is the smallest glacieret in the Balkans. In this respect is perhaps a good example of what something in Scotland might look like should glaciers return. Over the last 20 years it has fluctuated in size between 0.3 - 0.77ha and it is believed to have permanently existed since the start of the LIA.

Research in Oct 2006 including core drilling indicated a maximum firn depth of 11m with glacial ice densities at the base where the ice was shown to be at least 80 years old. Crevasses in the surface of the firn were seen which may have indicated some rotary movement of the firn/ice mass but 'glacial movement' since the end of the LIA cannot be confirmed.

Another interesting fact is that recent research indicate the average annual temp at the site is 1.9c (research from 50 years ago suggested it was closer to 0c) which if translated to Scotland I believe would indicate an altitude of about 1100m in the Cairngorms?

It manages to survive at such a high annual temp/low altitude by peculiar geographical features:

It primarily fed by wind blown snow and avalanche debris from the north face. Snow depths can reach 20m+ as a result of this.

High levels of shading by the high rock walls.

The marble rock exhibits a high albedo effect reflecting heat and the karstified cirque bottom means meltwater drains direct through the rock rather than along the ground.


I have some photos all taken on the 13th Aug. I cannot work how to get them to right size to be able to attach but if anyone can help I can send them on email. They show:


1. The north face with the glacieret below. The LIA moraine can clearly be seen.


2. Approaching the site with LIA moraine hiding the lower part of the glacieret.

3. Berschgrund at the head of the site

4. Bottom of the site with the head of the LIA moraine (with 'pro talus rampart debris) clearly visible.

5. The whole glacieret from the base. The width is approx 110m and the height about 80m






Edited 2 times. Last edit at 17.52hrs Mon 22 Aug 16 by SimonW.
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