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Last updated: March 17, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
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The larger glaciers of Eastern Jostedalsbreen

Krundalen and Bergsetbreen from E Krundalen and Bergsetbreen from E, June 22, 1999. (131 kB)

Jostedalsbreen is Norwayīs and continental Europeīs largest glacier; a complex system of ice domes sending down mighty ice streams into the valleys on all sides, often in tremendous icefalls. According to measurements the ice in some places is more than 600 m thick. In the northern part the glacier has more alpine character, with many peaks and ridges jutting up through the ice. There lies also the highest peak on Jostedalsbreen, Lodalskåpa (2083 m), "the Westland Queen".

Jostedalsbreen has a rather maritime climate, with large amounts of snow in winter. The latest decades there has fallen so much that many outlets, in particular short and steep ones, have advanced significantly.

With Eastern Jostedalsbreen I here mean the part of Jostedalsbreen that drains towards Jostedalen. Other smaller glaciers in this area are included here as well.

Table over the larger glaciers of Eastern Jostedalsbreen with basic data

#Name Type Area (km2) Length (km) Lowest point (m) Highest point (m) Height difference (m)
Jostedalsbreen Glacier complex 533.48 60.4 60 1980 1920
1.Jostedalsbreen (Eastern part) Glacier complex 218.17 39.6 315 1980 1665
1a.of which Austre Sygneskardbreen Ice cap 3.36 2.0 1265 1700 435
1b.of which Austdalsbreen Ice cap 13.60 6.4 1170 1790 620
1c.of which Styggevassbreen Ice cap 3.51 1.8 1315 1695 380
1d.of which Vivabreen Ice cap 5.63 4.0 1290 1755 465
1e.of which Stigaholtbreen Valley glacier 14.45 8.9 790 1910 1120
1f.of which Austre Raudskarvbreen Ice cap 1.97 2.7 1350 1910 560
1g.of which Vestre Raudskarvbreen Ice cap 1.33 2.0 1435 1910 475
1h.of which Lodalsbreen Valley glacier 10.54 7.6 800 1980 1180
1i.of which Nibbabreen Ice cap 10.73 5.5 785 1980 1195
1j.of which Vestre Nosibreen Ice cap 1.18 1.1 1235 1730 495
1k.of which Austre Nosibreen Ice cap 2.91 1.8 1275 1645 370
1l.of which Fåbergstølsbreen Ice cap 16.31 8.6 675 1820 1145
1m.of which Storefonnbreen Ice cap 3.80 1.6 1280 1615 335
1n.of which Nigardsbreen Ice cap 45.90 12.9 315 1940 1625
1o.of which Steinmannbreen Ice cap 2.40 1.9 1190 1630 440
1p.of which Tuftebreen Ice cap 7.37 6.8 810 1910 1100
1q.of which Bergsetbreen Ice cap 15.13 5.8 460 1955 1495
1r.of which Vetledalsbreen Ice cap 4.09 2.8 1020 1635 615
1s.of which Tunsbergdalsbreen Valley glacier 47.47 20.2 525 1930 1405
1t.of which Kvitekollbreen Ice cap 4.64 3.5 855 1780 925
1u.of which Sauaskredbreen Ice cap 1.85 1.2 1345 1760 415
2.Tverradalsbreen Cirque glacier 1.46 2.5 1070 1560 490
3.Grånosibreen Glacier complex 5.76 5.8 1135 1675 540
3a.of which Røykjedalsbreen Ice cap 1.09 1.4 1340 1615 275
3b.of which Kyrkjedalsbreen Ice cap 1.14 1.8 1135 1615 480
3c.of which Breakulsbreen Ice cap 1.43 1.1 1430 1665 235
3d.of which Liastølsbreen Cirque glacier 2.10 1.8 1195 1675 480
4.Nordre Vassdalsbreen Glacier complex 1.95 3.5 1115 1665 550
4a.of which Vassdalsbreen Ice cap 1.15 0.8 1115 1665 550
4b.of which Haugakupbreen Ice cap 0.80 0.7 1380 1600 220
5.Søre Vassdalsbreen Glacier complex 1.81 2.6 1275 1655 380
5a.of which Vassdalsbreen Ice cap 1.13 1.4 1275 1630 355
5b.of which Flabreen Ice cap 0.68 0.9 1375 1655 280
6.Tverrdalsnosibreen Ice cap 1.02 1.2 1200 1630 430
7.Tverradalsbreen Glacier complex 6.70 5.8 1030 1620 590
7a.of which Kyravadbreen Ice cap 1.92 2.0 1030 1620 590
7b.of which Skruklebreen Ice cap 2.28 1.8 1195 1600 405
7c.of which Urdanovbreen Ice cap 0.52 0.9 1440 1595 155
7d.of which Tverrdalsbreen Ice cap 1.98 2.1 1280 1600 320
8.Såtabreen Glacier complex 3.79 3.1 1220 1700 480
8a.of which Kupabreen Ice cap 1.56 2.2 1330 1700 370
8b.of which Hestbreen Ice cap 2.23 1.8 1220 1700 480
Total 240.66


1. Jostedalsbreen (Eastern part)

Jostedalsbreen (Eastern part) (218.17 km2) is the part of Jostedalsbreen which drains eastward, towards Jostedalen. The northern part of the area is a fairly complex system of ice streams with many peaks and ridges jutting up, while the southern one is of more classical ice cap type. During the peak of the Little Ice Age in the middle of the 18th century all outlets advanced a lot, destroying both farmland and pasture, as well as entire farms. The highest point on this part of Jostedalsbreen is Lodalskåpa (2083 m).

This part of Jostedalsbreen contains the two large ice streams within the entire glacier complex - the calm and very long Tunsbergdalsbreen and the winding Nigardsbreen. In general the outlet glaciers in this part have somewhat gentler slope than on the other sides, and are not quite as savage. The brilliant exception to this is of course the huge icefall of Bergsetbreen, perhaps the most impressive in entire Norway. Other significant outlets are Austdalsbreen, which calves in Styggevatnet, Stigaholtbreen, Lodalsbreen and Nibbabreen around Lodalskåpa, and finally Fåbergstølsbreen.

1a. Austre Sygneskardbreen

Austre Sygneskardbreen (3.36 km2) is a rather small and short outlet glacier in the northern part of Jostedalsbreen. It calves in lake Kupvatnet with a 600 m wide ice cliff, and has advanced somewhat (some 100 m) the latest years. A glacier pass (1530 m) leading over to Sunndalen goes over Sygneskardbreen. Up in the pass the ice is some 300 m thick.

1b. Austdalsbreen

Austdalsbreen (13.60 km2) is a large outlet glacier in northernmost Jostedalsbreen, which calves in the artificial lake Austdalsvatnet-Styggevatnet with a 1100 m wide and at least 30 m high (depending on water level) ice cliff. Even before the dam was built the glacier calved in Austdalsvatnet, but when the dam was filled for the first time in 1988 the calving increased considerably.

This has resulted in the ice cliff retreating slightly more than 300 m since. In the beginning the retreat was fast, but the large snow surpluses from the early 1990:s actually has increased the ice thickness in the upper parts. This has caused an increased ice movement towards the tongue, which has slowed down the retreat. Today Austdalsbreenīs ice cliff only retreats slowly. The position of the ice front varies much with the water level in the lake as well.

There is a deep valley going up towards northwest below Austdalsbreen; in its upper parts the ice thickness is 450 m. During the Little Ice Age the tongue of Austdalsbreen extended some 1.1 km farther out into Austdalsvatnet. Since 1988 NVE has performed mass balance measurements here, with a small mass surplus of 3.0 m (water equivalent, distributed over the entire area) during the time up to 2000. A road leads up to the dam; from there it takes some 2 hours reaching the glacier snout.

1c. Styggevassbreen

Styggevassbreen (3.51 km2) is an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen at the east side of Vivakulen. During the Little Ice Age several tongues extended a significant distance into the current Styggevatnet.

1d. Vivabreen

Vivabreen (5.63 km2) is a medium-sized outlet glacier from Jostedalsbreen to the south of Austdalsnuten.

1e. Stigaholtbreen

Stigaholtbreen from S Stigaholtbreen from S, June 21, 1999. (59 kB)

Stigaholtbreen (14.45 km2), also called Stegholbreen, is a long and pretty large valley glacier in Jostedalsbreen, which flows southwards from the area around Stornosa. In its lower part, in Trongedalen, the ice tongue narrows and steepens, with some crevasse zones. In the uppermost part, between Stornosa and Klubben, the ice is 475 m thick. During the Little Ice Age Stigaholtbreen stretched some 1.3 km farther down into Stordalen. During the very latest years the glacier has started to advance again. Slightly more than a hourīs walk through forest from the road at Øy leads you to the glacier snout.

1f. Austre Raudskarvbreen

Austre Raudskarvbreen (1.97 km2) is an ice cap at the southeast side of Raudskarvfjellet, at the edge of Jostedalsbreen.

1g. Vestre Raudskarvbreen

Vestre Raudskarvbreen (1.33 km2), an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, lies on the south slope of Raudskarvfjellet.

1h. Lodalsbreen

Lodalsbreen (10.54 km2) is a fairly large valley glacier in Jostedalsbreen, in innermost Stordalen. It starts far up between Lodalskåpa and Brenibba. From Ståleskardet up there the ice glides down eastwards through the 250 m high icefall Småttene, meets the tributary glacier Strupbreen from NW, and turns southward towards Stordalen. A glacier pass at some 1510 m leads across to Erdalen from the northern part of Lodalsbreen, across the crevasse zone Lodalsbrekka. The lower Lodalsbreen displays two very distinct medial moraines.

Earlier, during the Little Ice Age, Lodalsbreen was much larger than today. Then it joined with the roughly same-sized Nibbabreen, coming from SW. When at its largest, Lodalsbreen stretched some 4.3 km farther out in Stordalen, all the way to Fåbergstølsgrandane. This is incidentally the largest active sandur in Norway; 4 km long. Lodalsbreen has retreated steadily for a long time, but during the very latest years its front has started to advance again. From the road at Fåbergstølen it is roughly a 2 hour hike up along Stordalen to the glacier snout.

1i. Nibbabreen

Nibbabreen (10.73 km2) is a rather large and steep ice cap in Jostedalsbreen on the southeast side of Brenibba. A short and steep ice tongue with two large icefalls, the upper one 2 km wide and 300 m high, the lower one 800 m wide and 500 m high, leads down into Stordalen. Earlier Nibbabreen was continuos with Lodalsbreen, being a part of it. Nibbabreen has advanced some 350 m - and 150 m downwards - since its minimum some 20 years ago.

1j. Vestre Nosibreen

Vestre Nosibreen (1.18 km2), a steep ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, lies on the NW side of Fåbergstølsnosi.

1k. Austre Nosibreen

Austre Nosibreen (2.91 km2) is an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, at the east side of Fåbergstølsnosi.

1l. Fåbergstølsbreen

Fåbergstølsbreen from E Fåbergstølsbreen from E, June 22, 1999. (73 kB)

Fåbergstølsbreen (16.31 km2) is a large outlet glacier of Jostedalsbreen, which flows down to the east towards upper Jostedalen. Its upper regions are relatively even, with an ice depth of up to 550 m 2 km SW of Brenibba. Lower down Fåbergstølsbreen has a small icefall, 1 km wide and 200 m high, leading down towards the tongue. A route across Jostedalsbreen to Bødalen leads up along this glacier.

Fåbergstølsbreen in its valley Fåbergstølsbreen in its valley, June 22, 1999. (65 kB)

The glacier tongue lies in a narrow valley, with the old lateral moraine more than 200 m higher up in the valley side. This lateral moraine is broken through in several places by streams coming from above, and debris flows from it down into the valley are common. Above the moraine, on the mountain side high above the glacier tongue mountain birches grow! Stereo image of Fåbergstølsbreen in its valley.

Fåbergstølsbreenīs tongue Fåbergstølsbreenīs tongue, June 22, 1999. (116 kB)

Like other glaciers Fåbergstølsbreen was much larger during the 18th century; the period known as the Little Ice Age. Then its tongue reached almost down into the river in Jostedalen - a position some 2.5 km farther out than the current. Still, Fåbergstølsbreen too has begun to advance again during the latest years, and displays the advancing glacierīs typical steep, heavily crevassed front. From the road down in Jostedalen it is roughly 1 hourīs easy walk up to the glacier snout.

The steep edge of 
Fåbergstølsbreen The steep edge of Fåbergstølsbreen, June 22, 1999. (88 kB)

1m. Storefonnbreen

Storefonnbreen (3.80 km2) is an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, on the east and south sides of Lioksla, at the northeast side of Nigardsdalen.

1n. Nigardsbreen

Nigardsbreen from SE Nigardsbreen from SE, September 15, 1989. (56 kB)

Nigardsbreen (45.90 km2) is the 2nd largest (after Tunsbergdalsbreen), and the 2nd most famous (after Briksdalsbreen) outlet glacier of Jostedalsbreen. Another older name for the glacier is Mjølverbreen. It has a huge, triangular rather even accumulation area, stretching between Høgste Breakulen (1957 m) in SW and Brenibba (2018 m) in NE - a width of 10 km. Up there, 2 km east of Kjenndalskruna, the ice reaches a thickness of some 550 m. The ice flows down southward funnel-like, with a small 1 km wide and 200 m high icefall. The ice accepts two tributaries from the west and is concentrated in a narrow, S-shaped valley. Earlier there was three significant nunataks there - now the northernmost one is totally gone, the intermediate one is almost totally covered by ice, and the southernmost and largest one is much reduced in size. Today the glacier snout stands roughly where the valley widens and straightens out.

Nigardsbreen from SE Nigardsbreen from SE, June 22, 1999. (103 kB)

Nigardsbreen was in retreat for a long time, but in 1989 it changed and the ice tongue started to advance again. Up to 1998 the glacier has advanced some 220 m, at the same time growing much thicker, steeper and more crevassed (compare images 1 - 2, and 3 - 4, fom 1989 and 1999 respectively). Of course this is perfectly normal for an advancing glacier. However, it is not the large snow surpluses from the early 1990s which has caused the current advance. Nigardsbreen is rather long and has a reaction time of some 20 years. The current, relatively modest advance is due to smaller surpluses during the 1970s - around the year 2010 we may expect a much more powerful advance (unless the climate turns much warmer, causding the "wave" of ice to melt away before it reaches the snout).

Nigardsbreenīs tongue from E Nigardsbreenīs tongue from E, September 15, 1989. (95 kB)

Nigardsbreen is one of the glaciers on which NVE performs mass balance measurements; here measurements have been undertaken since 1962. During that time (1962-2000) a total surplus of some 19.5 m water equivalent, distributed across the entire surface, has been measured. This should be enough for a rather large advance (some 2 km?). In that case the better part of Nigardsbrevatnet and the valley beside it, including the parking lot, would be covered. The lake is fairly shallow at least on the west side, so calving should not be able to offset the advance to any appreciable extent.

Nigardsbreenīs tongue from E Nigardsbreenīs tongue from E, June 22, 1999. (87 kB)

During the Little Ice Age Nigardsbreen was extraordinariy large; it filled the entire Nigardsdalen all the way out to the river in Jostedalen - at its largest at a position as much as 4.6 km from the current one. Around 1710 the ice front stood approximately in the middle of the current Nigardsvatnet, but then it started to advance and had covered 2.8 km by 1735. Such a rapid advance (more than 100 m/year on average) canīt be due to cold summers only. There must have been many years with large snow surpluses in the end of the 17th century. The farm Nigard lost the better part of its farmland, and other farms too made substantial losses. During the years 1735-42 the ice front was basically stable, but in 1743 it advanced an additional 100 m and crushed the very farmhouse of Nigard as well. The next few years after the ice bulldozed ahead an additional 50 m before it reached its maximum position in 1748. Then it had laid waste to most of the land belonging to the farm Bjørkehaug as well. The limit for the maximum ice extension is seen very well in the vegetation in the valley. Stereo image of Nigardsbreen from E.

The front of Nigardsbreen The front of Nigardsbreen, June 22, 1999. (97 kB)

After that Nigardsbreen started to retreat slowly, with smaller readvances now and then, in particular around 1845, 1873, and 1910. In general the 19th century seems to have been characterized by a continued cold climate, though with less snow than during the previous century. In 1910 the front of Nigardsbreen stood some 1.7 km behind the outermost terminal moraines. In the beginning of the 20th century the glacier was basically stable, but in the 1920:s a rapid retreat started, caused by the rising summer temperatures. Around 1930 the lake of Nigardsbrevatnet began to be uncovered by the melting of the ice. This led to catastrophic calving and an accelerated retreat during the 1930:s, 1940:s and 1950:s. In the middle of the 1960:s the entire lake was uncovered and the retreat began to slow down. Finally the ice front stabilized in the middle of the 1970:s in the position it more or less kept until the start of the 1990:s. Stereo image of the front of Nigardsbreen.

Mountain birch in front of the advancing 
Nigardsbreen Mountain birch in front of the advancing Nigardsbreen, June 22, 1999. (105 kB)

When speaking about the Little Ice Age we tend to think of the 18th century, as it was then it culminated. However, that was the second phase; the first one started around year 1500. In the 18th century the vicar Mathias Foss in Jostedalen wrote down a legend saying that in the days of old in Mjølverdalen, which is another name for Nigardsdalen, there was a large flat valley with six farms. It is likely that Nigardsbreen before year 1500 was much smaller than its minimum during the 20th century; probably the front stood several km higher up in the winding valley. The depression in the valley where Nigardsbrevatnet now lies had had many hundreds of years to be totally filled in by glacial silt, turning into a plain with very good farmland. Then the start of the Little Ice Age came, the glacier advanced a number of km, destroying the farms and their land. After two hundred years the second phase arrived, completing the destruction. Stereo image of mountain birch in front of the advancing Nigardsbreen.

Fallen down ice block before Nigardsbreen Fallen down ice block before Nigardsbreen, June 22, 1999. (87 kB)

Today Nigardsbreen is a much frequented tourist attraction; hundreds of tourists visit the glacier summer days with good weather. A toll road leads to a large parking lot slightly less than a km along the lake. From there you can go by boat for a km, but it is just as easy to hike along the rock slabs beside the lake shore - you reach the glacier snout in approximately half an hour. An advancing glacier is definitely more dangerous than one in retreat; it has a high, steep, heavily crevassed front where ice can tumble down with no warning. Another danger is the glacier stream, which can be dammed up by collapses inside the glacier. Then the dam suddenly fails, and out comes a tidal wave of icily cold water and ice blocks, sweeping away everyone standing too close. Such an accident at Nigardsbreen in 1986 resulted in two fatalities. Stereo image of fallen down ice block before Nigardsbreen.

Nigardsbreenīs front from SE Nigardsbreenīs front from SE, June 22, 1999. (126 kB)

1o. Steinmannbreen

Steinmannbreen (2.40 km2) is an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, on Hauganosi to the west of Nigardsdalen.

1p. Tuftebreen

The icefall of Tuftebreen from Krundalen The icefall of Tuftebreen from Krundalen, June 22, 1999. (62 kB)

Tuftebreen (7.37 km2), a mid-sized outlet from Jostedalsbreen, lies on the north side of Krundalen, east of Høgste Breakulen. First the ice glides east in a shallow depression, but then it turns south in a 600 m wide and 350 m high icefall down into Tufteskardet. The ice front now stands up in the hanging valley, but during the Little Ice Age the ice flowed down on a wide front all the way down to the bottom of Krundalen, destroying much farmland and pasture and forcing the moving of the house at the farm Bergset. Then the ice front stood 1.7 km from its current position, and a second, 300 m high icefall had formed. The lateral and terminal moraines from that time are still seen very clearly in the terrain and vegetation. Tuftebreen too has begun advancing again, though not by much yet. Slightly more than an hourīs hike up the valley side from roadīs end at Bergset leads you up to the glacier snout.

1q. Bergsetbreen

Bergsetbreen in Krundalen from E Bergsetbreen in Krundalen from E, June 22, 1999. (79 kB)

Bergsetbreen (15.13 km2) innermost in Krundalen is a significant outlet glacier of Jostedalsbreen. It starts up between Høgste Breakulen and Kvitekulen, where the ice is at least 400 m thick. From there it glides towards SE to the edge towards Krundalen, where it turns eastward and tumbles down in one of the most magnificent icefalls in Norway. Stereo image of Bergsetbreen in Krundalen.

The 1000 m high icefall of Bergsetbreen The 1000 m high icefall of Bergsetbreen, June 22, 1999. (100 kB)

The icefall is 1000 m high and at start 2 km wide; halfway down a protruding rock splits it however. The smaller, southern branch ends at some 750 m asl, but the northern main part reaches all the way down to the valley bottom and forms a short valley glacier there. Bergsetbreen is due to its steepness a glacier which reacts quickly to changes in its mass balance - it seems to have a reaction time of roughly 5 years.

Bergsetbreenīs tongue with Baklibreen at right Bergsetbreenīs tongue with Baklibreen at right, June 22, 1999. (167 kB)

Not long ago Bergsetbreen was very much smaller; minimum was probably somewhere around 1970. Then the glacier tongue hung a good way up in the mountain side. During the 1970:s the glacier started to advance again due to increased snowfall. At first it went quite slowly - an avalanche cone formed, which at some time around 1980 fused together with the icefall above. The ice, which now was continuos all the way down to the valley bottom, continued to increase slowly, but it was not until the start of the 1990:s it started for real. In less than 10 years the ice advanced some 500 m and formed a significant glacier tongue in the innermost Krundalen. The last years the rate slowed down, and now Bergsetbreen seems more or less to have achieved stability. In total Bergsetbreen has advanced some 700 m since its minimum.

The front of Bergsetbreen with Baklibreen above The front of Bergsetbreen with Baklibreen above, June 22, 1999. (93 kB)

During the Little Ice Age Bergsetbreen too of course was a lot larger than now; its outermost terminal moraine lies some 1.7 km from its current position. Then Bergsetbreenīs southern branch and Baklibreen to the north joined together with the main Bergsetbreen. When the tongue advanced in Krundalen in the 18th century it destroyed farmland, pastures and at least one saeter, but the population was also struck by a number of devastating avalanches.

Ice formation in the front of Bergsetbreen Ice formation in the front of Bergsetbreen, June 22, 1999. (73 kB)

Bergsetbreen is without any doubt one of the most splendid and impressive icefalls in Norway. The road ends at the farm Bergset, and from there to the glacier front it is 1 hourīs walk on good path through the lush Krundalen. The icefall of Bergsetbreen was first climbed at the end of the 19th century by the Norwegian lawyer Kristian Bing and the local Anders Grov. Stereo image of ice formation in the front of Bergsetbreen.

The deadly Baklibreen from E Den deadly Baklibreen from E, June 22, 1999. (90 kB)

Baklibreen is a small outlet north of Bergsetbreen proper. Since ice regularly avalanches down from its edge to the tongue of Bergsetbreen I count it as a part of this larger glacier. Baklibreen lies in a small hanging valley, SE of Høgste Breakulen. During the large glacier retreat in the 20th century it retreated up the mountain side towards Krundalen and backed behind the edge. During the 1970:s and 1980:s Baklibreen started to slowly advance again however, and in summer 1986 large ice masses had piled up above the precipice. It was an unstable situation, and sooner or later it had to fail. On the 27th of July that year three Dutch tourists had hiked in to the foot of Bergsetbreen, at the end of Krundalen. They had no chance when 200 000 tons of ice avalanched down from a height of 700 m. Their bodies were not found until two years later, when enough ice had melted. Now the risk is judged to be much smaller; Baklibreen is continuos across a large part of the mountain side, and Bergsetbreen has advanced so much that it is no longer possible to come up under Baklibreen without first walking up a good distance on Bergsetbreen.

1r. Vetledalsbreen

Vetledalsbreen (4.09 km2), a small outlet of Jostedalsbreen, lies on the southwest side of Krundalen. During the Little Ice Age its tongue reached some 1.2 km farther down towards the valley, all the way down to roughly 600 m asl.

1s. Tunsbergdalsbreen

Tunsbergdalsbreen (47.47 km2) is the largest outlet of Jostedalsbreen, and the longest ice stream in entire Scandinavia - 20 km! It is not particularly spectacular, though mighty, but it is still one of the most unknown glacier tongues. This is because it is very inaccessible. To get to it you either have to make your way 9 km in steep and pathless terrain along an artificial lake (if you have a boat it is easier of course), or come across high mountain passes from Austerdalen or Krundalen.

Tunsbergdalsbreen has a vast elongate and even accumulation area up between Kvitekulen (1930 m) and Austerdalsfjellet. From there the ice flows through a short S-turn down into a wide, evenly sloping valley, forming an 11 km long and up to 1.8 km wide ice stream. There are some crevasse zones in the bend, but no real icefall. The rest of the glacier tongue is rather flat and relatively crevasse-poor too, except for a few small icefalls in tributary glaciers on the west side.

Three km up from the snout of Tunsbergdalsbreen a side valley, Brimkjelen, veers of towards west. This valley is blocked by the ice and sometimes an ice-dammed lake forms there from meltwater. This lake can become fairly deep, precipitating calving of the ice edge. When the water pressure gets too high the ice is lifted up somewhat and the water gushes out below it in a sudden flood, a so-called jøkulhlaup. The only thing left is stranded icebergs.

Tunsbergdalsbreen has been retreating during the entire 20th century, and it keeps retreating still, at a fairly low pace though. Mass balance measurements performed by NVE have shown that this glacier too has received large snow surpluses during the 1990:s, but on account of its length and gentle slope this glacier reacts very slowly indeed. A reaction time of 50 years might not be impossible. Consequently Tunsbergdalsbreen will continue retreating for many years still, no matter how the climate unfolds.

During the Little Ice Age Tunsbergdalsbreen of course was a lot larger. Then it reached some 2.9 km farther down the valley - a considerable distance out where the artificial lake Tunsbergdalsvatnet now lies. Then Tunsbergdalsbreen was probably continuos with Kvitekollbreen innermost in Brimkjelen, filling that side valley with ice. On the other hand Tunsbergdalsbreen then blocked the next side valley, Tverradalen instead. Since that valley is hanging there was no ice-dammed lake there though, but there was and still is a saeter there. From there the Englishman William Cecil Slingsby together with the Norwegian mountain guide Johannes Vigdal on August 15, 1881 started their hike up along the entire Tunsbergdalsbreen, via Høgste Breakulen, and down the savage Kjenndalsbreen (!), an incredible feat for that time.

1t. Kvitekollbreen

Kvitekollbreen (4.64 km2) is an ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, at the east side of Kvitekoll (1780 m). It reaches to the precipice towards the by Tunsbergdalsbreen blocked side valley Brimkjelen. When the glacier was at its smallest the valley was totally empty, but since large snow surpluses started to accumulate during the 1990:s ice has began avalanching down into the valley again. In that way a regenerated glacier has formed. During the Little Ice Age this glacier was probably continuos with Tunsbergdalsbreen.

1u. Sauaskredbreen

Sauaskredbreen (1.85 km2) is a small ice cap at the edge of Jostedalsbreen, on the north side of Tverradalen.


2. Tverradalsbreen

Tverradalsbreen (1.46 km2) is a cirque glacier on the south side of Krundalen, east of Vetledalsbreen.


3. Grånosibreen

Grånosibreen (5.76 km2) is a small ice cap complex between Tunsbergdalsbreen and Jostedalen. During the Little Ice Age it was continuos with Nordre Vassdalsbreen and Søre Vassdalsbreen.

3a. Røykjedalsbreen

Røykjedalsbreen (1.09 km2) is a small ice cap in Grånosibreen, south of Røykjedalen.

3b. Kyrkjedalsbreen

Kyrkjedalsbreen (1.14 km2) is a small ice cap in Grånosibreen, above the uppermost part of Kyrkjedalen.

3c. Breakulsbreen

Breakulsbreen (1.43 km2), a part of Grånosibreen, is a small ice cap on the west side of Breakulen.

3d. Liastølsbreen

Liastølsbreen (2.10 km2) is a cirque glacier in the eastern part of Grånosibreen. It is fairly steep.


4. Nordre Vassdalsbreen

Nordre Vassdalsbreen (1.95 km2) is a small ice cap complex on Vassdalsfjellet. During the Little Ice Age it was continuos with Grånosibreen and Søre Vassdalsbreen.

4a. Vassdalsbreen

Vassdalsbreen (1.15 km2) is an ice cap in Nordre Vassdalsbreen, above the west side of Vassdalen.

4b. Haugakupbreen

Haugakupbreen (0.80 km2), a part of Nordre Vassdalsbreen, is a small ice cap on the west side of Vassdalsfjellet.


5. Søre Vassdalsbreen

Søre Vassdalsbreen (1.81 km2) is a small ice cap complex on the east side of Vassdalsfjellet. During the Little Ice Age it was continuos with Grånosibreen and Nordre Vassdalsbreen.

5a. Vassdalsbreen

Vassdalsbreen (1.13 km2), a part of Søre Vassdalsbreen, is an ice cap at the west side of Vassdalen.

5b. Flabreen

Flabreen (0.68 km2) is a small ice cap in Søre Vassdalsbreen. It lies on the southeast side of Vassdalsfjellet, above Jostedalen.


6. Tverrdalsnosibreen

Tverrdalsnosibreen (1.02 km2) is a small ice cap on Tverrdalsnosi, just to the west of the snout of Tunsbergdalsbreen.


7. Tverradalsbreen

Tverrdalsbreen (6.70 km2) is a glacier complex south of Kvitekoll and west of Tunsbergdalsvatnet. During the Little Ice Age it was continuos with Jostedalsbreen and Såtabreen .

7a. Kyravadbreen

Kyravadbreen (1.92 km2) is an ice cap in Tverradalsbreen, which hangs above the precipices on the south side of Tverradalen. The lower part of the glacier covers the innermost of the valley.

7b. Skruklebreen

Skruklebreen (2.28 km2) is an ice cap in Tverradalsbreen, which glides down towards Tverradalen.

7c. Urdanovbreen

Urdanovbreen (0.52 km2), a small ice cap in Tverradalsbreen, lies south of Urdanovi.

7d. Tverrdalsbreen

Tverrdalsbreen (1.98 km2) is an ice cap in Tverradalsbreen. It glides down towards SW, towards Veitastrond.


8. Såtabreen

Såtabreen (3.79 km2) is a small ice cap on the north and east sides of Såta (1701 m). During the Little Ice Age it was a part of Jostedalsbreen, via Tverradalsbreen.

8a. Kupabreen

Kupabreen (1.56 km2) is an ice cap in Såtabreen, gliding down towards north and the small valley Kupa.

8b. Hestbreen

Hestbreen (2.23 km2), a steep ice cap in Såtabreen, lies on the east side of Såta, above Tunsbergdalsvatnet. In the northern part ice masses tumbles down a precipice and form a small regenerated glacier.


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Last updated: March 17, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
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