Start page Top
Top of
document
Previous
The larger glaciers
of Hardangerjøkulen
Up
The larger glaciers
of Norway
Site map
Site
map
Email
Email the
author
Copyleft
Copyleft
information
På svenska
Detta dokument
på svenska
Last updated: June 12, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
Images with size information (xx kB) leads to the corresponding image in 4 x better resolution.


The larger glaciers of Folgefonna

Nord- and Midt-Folgefonna from Sør-Folgefonna Nord- and Midt-Folgefonna from Sør-Folgefonna, June 23, 1986. (49 kB)

The very large ice cap Folgefonna, also known as the White Maiden of Hardanger, lies on the Folgefonnhalvøya peninsula between Hardangerfjorden and Sørfjorden. It is really three different ice caps - the rather large Nord-Folgefonna, the smaller Midt-Folgefonna, and the huge Sør-Folgefonna - all of classical ice cap type. Apart from Folgefonna itself I here also include a few small ice caps in southwestern Hardangervidda in the area.

The highest peak within the area is Sandfloegga (1721 m) in southern Hardangervidda, while the highest point on Folgefonna itself is Høgste Breakulen (1662 m). Folgefonna has an extremely maritime climate with very large amounts of precipitation; in the southwestern parts it is more than 5000 mm a year. The ice plateau of Folgefonna is unusually even and flat and with a few exceptions the outlets do not go very far down. Due to the local mountains being made of hard bedrock the ice is generally very pure and moraines are usually small - even at large glacier tongues. The form Folgefonni is also used.

Contents

  • The larger glaciers of Folgefonna with basic data


  • Table over the glaciers of Folgefonna larger than 5 km2 (glacier complexes treated as one unit)


  • Table over the glaciers of Folgefonna larger than 5 km2 (glacier complexes divided into ice streams)


  • Table over the larger glaciers of Folgefonna with basic data

    #Name Type Area (km2) Length (km) Lowest point (m) Highest point (m) Height difference (m)
    1. Nord-Folgefonna Glacier complex 28.04 8.9 975 1645 670
    1a. of which Juklavassbreen Ice cap 6.04 4.5 1060 1645 585
    1b. of which Jorfjellbreen Ice cap 1.97 2.8 1115 1630 515
    1c. of which Jukladalsbreen Ice cap 3.46 3.1 1085 1645 560
    1d. of which Støkkenbreen Ice cap 2.36 2.6 1180 1630 450
    1e. of which Såtabreen Ice cap 3.91 2.9 1220 1645 425
    1f. of which Dettebreen Ice cap 4.12 2.3 975 1640 665
    1g. of which Svartedalsbreen Ice cap 4.50 2.7 1190 1635 445
    1h. of which Botnabreen Ice cap 1.68 2.8 1060 1635 575
    2. Midt-Folgefonna Glacier complex 12.85 7.2 1095 1575 480
    2a. of which Kvitnadalsbreen Ice cap 3.80 2.6 1125 1575 450
    2b. of which Lausvassbreen Ice cap 3.19 2.7 1095 1575 480
    2c. of which Stølsskarbreen Ice cap 0.74 1.4 1095 1575 480
    2d. of which Ånutbreen Ice cap 5.12 3.1 1210 1575 365
    3. Sør-Folgefonna Glacier complex 166.46 23.6 425 1660 1235
    3a. of which Sauanutbreen Ice cap 7.98 3.9 980 1590 610
    3b. of which Skorfestebreen Ice cap 3.03 3.5 1145 1585 440
    3c. of which Blomsterskardbreen Ice cap 47.45 11.1 835 1640 805
    3d. of which Møsevassbreen Ice cap 15.84 6.6 875 1540 665
    3e. of which Rundavassbreen Ice cap 2.78 2.5 1050 1470 420
    3f. of which Bakdalsbreen Ice cap 6.25 4.2 1140 1605 465
    3g. of which Furebergsbreen Ice cap 3.29 3.3 960 1610 650
    3h. of which Pyttabreen Ice cap 2.81 3.2 800 1620 820
    3i. of which Fossevassbreen Ice cap 2.22 3.1 1125 1620 495
    3j. of which Bondhusbreen Ice cap 13.02 6.9 425 1640 1215
    3k. of which Brufossbreen Ice cap 2.88 3.9 1230 1630 400
    3l. of which Breidablikkbreen Ice cap 5.79 4.9 1215 1660 445
    3m. of which Gråfjellsbreen Ice cap 9.11 5.3 1040 1660 620
    3n. of which Urdabottbreen Ice cap 4.45 3.5 1355 1585 230
    3o. of which Hundsøyrebreen Ice cap 1.56 2.9 1085 1520 435
    3p. of which Holmaskjerbreen Ice cap 1.78 2.2 1095 1555 460
    3q. of which Blåvassbreen Ice cap 2.27 2.7 1060 1590 530
    3r. of which Langgrødbreen Ice cap 2.17 2.2 1210 1590 380
    3s. of which Øvre Buarbreen Ice cap 9.71 4.6 825 1660 835
    3t. of which Nedre Buarbreen Ice cap 13.56 7.3 595 1640 1045
    3u. of which Reindalsbreen Ice cap 1.61 2.6 1100 1540 440
    3v. of which Svartenutbreen Ice cap 6.90 4.5 1115 1605 490
    4. Træsfonn Ice cap 1.10 0.7 1380 1675 295
    5. Solfonn Ice cap 1.92 1.8 1445 1625 170
    6. Storfonn Ice cap 1.98 1.3 1345 1620 275
    7. Nupsfonn Ice cap 2.44 1.5 1465 1650 185
    8. Breifonn Ice cap 3.01 1.9 1415 1605 190
    Total 217.80


    1. Nord-Folgefonna

    Nord-Folgefonna from SW Nord-Folgefonna from SW, June 27, 1988. (66 kB)

    Nord-Folgefonna (28.04 km2) is a large classical ice cap in the northern part of Folgefonnhalvøya, between Maurangerfjorden and Sørfjorden. It has a number of relatively short outlets, which with the exception of Dettebreen are not very steep or crevassed. The highest point on Nord-Folgefonna is an ice dome at an altitude of 1645 m, and the largest outlet glacier is Juklavassbreen. During the Little Ice Age Nord-Folgefonna was possibly continuos with the smaller Midt-Folgefonna through the narrow Kvitnadalen.

    1a. Juklavassbreen

    Juklavassbreen (6.04 km2) is the largest outlet of Nord-Folgefonna. It flows westwards from the ice dome (1645 m), turns to the north and ends in a 400 m wide ice cliff in the artificial lake Juklavatnet. Juklavassbreen has a relatively even slope with only a few crevasse zones and is probably still in retreat.

    1b. Jorfjellbreen

    Jorfjellbreen (1.97 km2) is a small outlet glacier from northern Nord-Folgefonna. It has a fairly gentle and even slope and should be relatively free of crevasses, something making it suitable for the summer skiing that takes place there, at Folgefonn Sommerskisenter.

    1c. Jukladalsbreen

    Jukladalsbreen (3.46 km2), an ice cap in northern Nord-Folgefonna, glides out northward towards the mountain side above Jukladalen. A number of small steep ice tongues hang down in the precipice.

    1d. Støkkenbreen

    Støkkenbreen (2.36 km2) is a small outlet towards northeast from Nord-Folgefonna, high above Sørfjorden.

    1e. Såtabreen

    Såtabreen (3.91 km2) is an ice cap in eastern Nord-Folgefonna, high up in the precipice above Nordnes.

    1f. Dettebreen

    Dettebreen from SE Dettebreen from SE, September 1, 1994. (118 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Dettebreen (4.12 km2) is the steepest and most heavily crevassed of all the outlets of Nord-Folgefonna. It lies in a depression in the southern part of the ice cap and flows down eastwards in a 1 km wide and 500 m high icefall. The icefall ends right above a sheer precipice, but there is a small avalanche cone formed by ice avalanches below.

    1g. Svartedalsbreen

    Svartedalsbreen from W Svartedalsbreen from W, June 27, 1988. (73 kB)

    Svartedalsbreen (4.50 km2) is a medium-sized and even outlet towards SW from the southernmost part of Nord-Folgefonna, and it is virtually free of crevasses.

    1h. Botnabreen

    Botnabreen from SW Botnabreen from SW, June 27, 1988. (83 kB)

    Botnabreen (1.68 km2), or Botnabrea in the local form, is a small outlet towards west in Nord-Folgefonna, which sends down a narrow and fairly steep glacier tongue with a number of crevasse zones towards Botnane. The very latest years this glacier has begun to advance again.


    2. Midt-Folgefonna

    Midt-Folgefonna (12.85 km2) is a fairly large ice cap between the roughly twice as large Nord-Folgefonna in the north and the thirteen times as large Sør-Folgefonna in the south. Midt-Folgefonna is a pretty typical ice cap with a few rather indistinct outlets, and its highest point is an ice dome at 1575 m asl. The glacier has diminished much in area in the general retreat of the 20th century, and is probably rather thin. In particular the western side has become thinner, while the eastern one has not been hit so hard; probably because of increased wind drift of snow. In the years 1970-71 Arve M. Tvede performed mass balance measurements here.

    2a. Kvitnadalsbreen

    Kvitnadalsbreen (3.80 km2) is a small outlet in northwestern Midt-Folgefonna, above the very narrow Kvitnadalen.

    2b. Lausvassbreen

    Lausvassbreen (3.19 km2) is an ice cap in northeastern Midt-Folgefonna. Its tongue splits in several rather steep lobes in the mountain side above Lausvatn.

    2c. Stølsskarbreen

    Stølsskarbreen from E Stølsskarbreen from E, September 1, 1994. (95 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Stølsskarbreen (0.74 km2) is a small outlet straight to the east from the ice dome (1575 m) in Midt-Folgefonna. It is steep and is seen well from Sørfjorden.

    2d. Ånutbreen

    Ånutbreen (5.12 km2) is an ice cap in the southern part of Midt-Folgefonna. It lacks any distinct glacier tongue.


    3. Sør-Folgefonna

    Sør-Folgefonna from N Sør-Folgefonna from N, June 27, 1988. (221 kB)

    Sør-Folgefonna (166.46 km2) is a huge ice cap and the 3rd largest in Norway. It is a very typical ice cap, with a vast snow plateau sending out outlets in all directions. However, the topography makes only a few of them reach the edge of the mountain plateau, cascading down into the valleys. The ice plateau does not rise as much above the local snow line as is the case at e.g. Jostedalsbreen. The highest point is the ice dome Høgste Breakulen (1662 m).

    Folgefonna has had its Holocene maximum unusually late; while Jostedalsbreen, Svartisen and most other glaciers were as largest around year 1750 the steeper outlets of Folgefonna reached their maxima at the end of the 19th century, and the larger and more gently sloping ones far into the 20th century - yes, one outlet has never been as large as it is right now! A part of the explanation for this is that Folgefonna, and the southern part in particular, has an extremely maritime climate with a yearly precipitation of more than 5000 mm, and that the snow amounts have increased during the 20th century.

    The without comparison largest outlet glacier is the colossal Blomsterskardbreen in the south, but the calving Møsevassbreen and the steep and heavily crevassed Bondhusbreen, and Øvre and Nedre Buarbreen are significant as well. The whole area has an extremely maritime climate with a yearly precipitation of 5200 mm in the southwestern parts.

    3a. Sauanutbreen

    Sauanutbreen from S Sauanutbreen from S, September 1, 1994. (120 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Sauanutbreen (7.98 km2) is a large and wide outlet glacier flowing eastwards from the southeastern part of Sør-Folgefonna. It has a steeper section in the southern part with a 1 km wide and 200 m high icefall. Down towards the tongue Sauanutbreen turns southward towards the Sandvikkjeften gorge, which it today ends above. On the east side there are two ice-dammed lakes. Sauavatnet, the southern lake, was earlier much large than today, and in 1938, 1944, 1948 and 1962 severe jökulhlaups happened her. Since then the glacier tongue has decreased so much in thickness that the lake has a much lower level and surface area, and it now appears to be stable.

    Like the other southern outlet glaciers of Sør-Folgefonna Sauanutbreen had its maximum very late, around year 1930. Since then it has retreated some 1.0 km, a large part of the retreat probably due to much calving in the ice-dammed lakes, and is probably still in retreat. However, its upper parts have become much thicker in the latest years, making it likely that Sauanutbreen relatively soon should be able to stabilize. Measurements of the bottom topography on the very glacier tongue gives values for the ice thickness of up to some 150 m.

    3b. Skorfestebreen

    Skorfestebreen (3.03 km2) is a small outlet glacier in southeastern Sør-Folgefonna. It glides down towards southwest from the ice-covered mountain Skorfestenuten. Earlier this glacier tongue was possibly continuos with the huge Blomsterskardbreen right next to it. In any case, it has retreated some 400 m since 1959 and uncovered a small lake.

    3c. Blomsterskardbreen

    Blomsterskardbreen's western tongue from 
S Blomsterskardbreen's western tongue from S, September 1, 1994. (81 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Blomsterskardbreen (47.45 km2) is the very largest outlet from Sør-Folgefonna, a huge 11 km long and 4-6 km wide ice stream flowing straight to the south from the southern ice dome (1640 m). The ice stream has mostly an even and gentle slope, with a few steeper sections with crevasse zones. In the lower part Blomsterskardbreen splits into two ice tongues, Svelgjabreen, which glides towards southwest, and Blomstølskardbreen towards east and Sandvikedalen. Both tongues have several small ice cliffs in little ice-dammed lakes.

    Between 1970 and 1977 Arve M. Tvede performed mass balance measurements on Blomsterskardbreen. Later, comparisons between aerial photographs taken in 1959 and 1995 have shown that this massive ice stream during that period has thickened with some 12 m water equivalent distributed over the entire surface. Southwestern Folgefonna has had a more positive mass balance history than the rest of the area, and Blomsterskardbreen the most of them all. Since the glacier is so long and not particularly steep it has a rather long reaction time, but within 10-15 years one could expect a significant readvance.

    Svelgjabreen, which has also been called Kjerringbotnbreen is a mighty wedge-shaped ice tongue gliding down towards Kjerringbotnen in Blådalen. Even though it has an even surface it has pretty steep and crevassed edges, probably due to that it is currently advancing. Radar measurements show that the valley below the glacier tongue is even, and the ice depth is some 225 m only one km up from the snout. The glacier tongue had its maximum very late, probably around 1940. Since then Svelgjabreen has retreated some 400 m, but now things have turned and it is advancing again, if slowly so far. You can get across the terrain to the glacier tongue from roadīs end at the hydroelectric dam at Midtbotnavatnet in some 2 hours.

    Blomsterskardbreen's eastern tongue from 
S Blomsterskardbreen's eastern tongue from S, September 1, 1994. (120 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    The eastern tongue, Blomstølskardbreen, is shorter than the western one, a slightly more than 2 km wide ice stream flowing down towards SE. It has its maximum after the ice age extremely late - actually it appears that it never has been larger than right now! Since around year 1900 it has slowly but surely advanced roughly 300 m, out across a cliff and in doing so created a 400 m wide and 150 m high icefall. and filled up 80% of Blomstølsskardvatnet. An explanation for this atypical behavior could be that as the ice fills up the lake the remaining part becomes increasingly shallower, the calving decreases, and the advance can continue even longer. Radar measurements of the bottom topography below the tongue show that the ice depth reaches at least 300 m.

    3d. Møsevassbreen

    Møsevassbreen from SW Møsevassbreen from SW, September 1, 1994. (110 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Møsevassbreen (15.84 km2), or Møsevassbrea in the local form, is a large outlet glacier in southwestern Sør-Folgefonna. It is a fairly wide ice stream flowing down over a number of "steps", causing crevasse zones and a few small icefalls. The glacier tongue ends in the hydroelectric lake Insta Mosevatnet with a small ice cliff. Møsevassbreen probably had its Holocene maximum very late; during the 20th century. Largely because of intense calving in the lake, caused by the higher water level, it has retreated much during later years, with some 700 m since 1959. This has also lowered the level of the lower part of the glacier, making it both steeper and more crevassed. Several new nunataks have emerged too.

    During the very last years Møsevassbreen has started to retreat up from the lake, and of the earlier 400 m wide ice cliff only some 100 m remain in the westernmost part. The rest of the glacier tongue stands roughly at the shore, so it is possible the retreat will now stop. Møsevassbreen has become thicker in its upper parts during the latest years though, if not as much as has Blomsterskardbreen, its even larger neighbor in the east. Partly this may be due to the southwesterly direction of the outlet, which may cause much snow to blow past it, coming to rest further to the east. Because of this surplus one might expect a certain advance in 10 years or so. Some one and a half hourīs walk from the end of the dam road leads you to the glacier snout.

    3e. Rundavassbreen

    Rundavassbreen (2.78 km2) is a small ice cap in the southwestern part of Sør-Folgefonna, which glides down to the west, towards Rundavatnet. It is fairly steep in the lower part.

    3f. Bakdalsbreen

    Bakdalsbreen (6.25 km2), a mid-sized ice cap, lies in southwestern Sør-Folgefonna. Its broad tongue ends in the mountain side above Bakdalen.

    3g. Furebergsbreen

    Furebergsbreen (3.29 km2) is a small ice cap at the western edge of Sør-Folgefonna, which sends down a small steep ice tongue into uppermost Furebergsdalen.

    3h. Pyttabreen

    Pyttabreen from N Pyttabreen from N, September 1, 1994. (95 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Pyttabreen (2.81 km2), or Pyttabrea in the local form, is a small outlet glacier in western Sør-Folgefonna. From an even accumulation area a small very steep ice tongue leads down into the narrow and deep valley Pytten with a 200 m wide and 600 m high icefall.

    3i. Fossevassbreen

    Fossevassbreen (2.22 km2) is a small ice cap in western Sør-Folgefonna, which extends down into Fossavatnet with a small ice cliff.

    3j. Bondhusbreen

    Bondhusbreen from Sunndal Bondhusbreen from Sunndal, June 26, 1988. (67 kB)

    Bondhusbreen (13.02 km2), or Bondhusbrea in the local form, is together with Buarbreen on the other side of the ice plateau the most well known of the outlet glaciers of Sør-Folgefonna. It is a large ice stream flowing to the north, concentrating funnel-like in a narrow cleft. The upper part is even and flat but lower down extensive crevasse zones appear and in the cleft a 200-300 m wide and 700 m high icefall running through a weak S-curve starts. Many think this is the most beautiful icefall in entire Norway. The small neighbor Brufossbreen earlier was a part of Bondhusbreen.

    Bondhusbreen from N Bondhusbreen from N, June 21, 1999. (53 kB)

    The glacier tongue currently ends at some 425 m asl - the lowest point of any part of Folgefonna - up on a rock slope some 100 m above a large gravel plain. During the Little Ice Age the glacier tongue reached all the way down to the valley bottom and spread out over the entire plain, some 0.7 km farther out than today, but maximum extent was attained as late as around 1875. Up to around 1930 the glacier tongue was only retreating slowly, even if it became significantly thinner. Then the retreat accelerated though, the fan-like lower part melted away and the ice receded up the rocks. However, during the 1980:s Bondhusbreen started to slowly advance again, and after 1990 it speeded up. Since the minimum the glacier has readvanced some 200 m and downwards 100 m. The snout of Bondhusbreen is incredibly split up in crevasses and ice towers, and it is likely it will advance some more before stabilizing.

    The tongue of Bondhusbreen from N The tongue of Bondhusbreen from N, June 21, 1999. (67 kB)

    During the early 20th century Bondhusbreen was used as a source of ice in the summers, ice which was used primarily for conservation of fish. Local men walked up through Bondhusdalen, rowed over Bondhusvatnet and hiked up to the glacier tongue. There they cut loose as much ice they could carry in their knapsacks and made their way down again with their precious burden. They rowed across the lake again, and eventually reached Sunndal where a ship was waiting. The men could make a fairly handsome wage, but despite that a small road up to the lake was built for their sake it wasnīt profitable in the long run, and after a while it was discontinued. Stereo image of the tongue of Bondhusbreen.

    The crevassed ice front of Bondhusbreen The crevassed ice front of Bondhusbreen, June 21, 1999. (83 kB)

    Now too Bondhusbreen is exploited for industrial purposes; the hydroelectric plant in Mauranger dearly wanted more water to its turbines, but since the snout of Bondhusbreen lies 400 m below the dam lake they could not pipe the water there directly. Instead a tunnel was blown into below the icefall, on a level somewhat above the lake level, tapping the meltwater. This leads to the stream from the glacier tongue having much less water now than before. This method has later been used at Engabreen too. Next to the icefall there is a concrete building, from which it is possible to get down into tunnels below the ice. It has been used as a base by glaciologists who have used the tunnels in their measurements. From the parking lot just above Sunndal you get up to Bondhusbreen in slightly less than 2 hours, on a good path up in the valley and past the lake. The last stretch up to the ice requires some easy scrambling up the rocks.

    3k. Brufossbreen

    Brufossbreen (2.88 km2), or Brufossbrea in the local form, is a small outlet from Sør-Folgefonna just to the north of the large Bondhusbreen, of which it earlier was a part.

    3l. Breidablikkbreen

    Breidablikkbreen (5.79 km2), or Breidablikkbrea in the local form, is a medium-sized outlet glacier of western Sør-Folgefonna. It starts up at Høgste Breakulen (1662 m) and glides down towards NW in a fairly gently sloping tongue. Two torist huts lie on the mountain ridge on its west side; Breidablikk and Fonnabu. You can reach them by hiking up the so-called Keiserstigen (= Emperorīs path) from Bondhusdalen. It is named after emperor Wilhelm of Germany, was paid for by a German tourist association, and was built with sufficient standard for horses and riders to be able to make their way up. Between 1963 and 1968 NVE performed mass balance measurements here.

    3m. Gråfjellsbreen

    Gråfjellsbreen (9.11 km2), or Gråfjellsbrea in the local form, is a large outlet glacier in northern Sør-Folgefonna. It starts up at Høgste Breakulen (1662 m) and flows northward and then towards northwest in a relatively gently sloping ice tongue with some larger crevasse zones in a few steeper areas. The large depression in upper Gråfjellsbreen is called Store Kvelven. Gråfjellsbreen has retreated during the entire 20th century, and earlier stood far out in the hydroelectric lake Mysevatnet. During two periods in the 1960:s and 1970:s NVE performed mass balance measurements here. The glacier has also been called Gråbreen.

    3n. Urdabottbreen

    Urdabottbreen (4.45 km2) is an ice cap in northernmost Sør-Folgefonna, west of Holmaskjera.

    3o. Hundsøyrebreen

    Hundsøyrebreen (1.56 km2) is an ice cap in northernmost Sør-Folgefonna. A narow glacier tongue lies below the precipice towards Blådalen, and a plateau part above it.

    3p. Holmaskjerbreen

    Holmaskjerbreen (1.78 km2) is a small outlet from northernmost Sør-Folgefonna. It starts up by the nunatak Holmaskjera, where there is a small hut, and glides down eastward towards a split tongue. The southern tongue ends in a small lake.

    3q. Blåvassbreen

    Blåvassbreen from SE Blåvassbreen from SE, September 1, 1994. (111 kB) --- Photo: Arve M. Tvede

    Blåvassbreen (2.27 km2) is a small outlet in northern Sør-Folgefonna. An upper plateau part feeds a glacier tongue in the valley, which earlier calved in lake Blåvatnet, but which now has essentially retreated out of the lake. It is not unusual with ice avalanches from the plateau down the precipice to the ice tongue below. The glacier has also been called Blåbreen.

    3r. Langgrødbreen

    Langgrødbreen (2.17 km2) is a small ice cap in northern Sør-Folgefonna, to the north of Buarbreen. It has also been called Ruklebreen.

    3s. Øvre Buarbreen

    Øvre Buarbreen from S Øvre Buarbreen from S, June 20, 1999. (81 kB)

    Øvre Buarbreen (9.71 km2), or Buerbreen in the local form, a large outlet glacier of eastern Sør-Folgefonna, is easily seen high above Sandvinvatnet from the main road south of Odda. Earlier, as late as in the beginning of the 20th century, it flowed down to join with the even larger Nedre Buarbreen. Øvre Buarbreen starts up at the highest ice dome on Folgefonna, Høgste Breakulen (1662 m), and flows down towards southeast and Buardalen. The upper part of Øvre Buarbreen is relatively poor in crevasses, while the ice tongue has lots of crevasses and several small icefalls.

    The ice front of Øvre Buarbreen The ice front of Øvre Buarbreen, June 20, 1999. (64 kB)

    When the glacier was at its largest during the Little Ice Age a heavily crevassed tongue hung down across the cliffs at the same time as the better part of the ice tongue joined with Nedre Buarbreen. Øvre Buarbreen retreated during most of the 20th century, but at the start of the 1980:s the tongue slowly began advancing again. Now it has advanced some 150 m and yet again flows down into the cleft leading down to its southern neighbor, and it has also advanced enough across the cliffs to create a new meltwater stream flowing down where ten years ago there was none. To get up to Øvre Buarbreen you continue on the path up the cliffs; some easy scrambling is required. Stereo image of the ice front of Øvre Buarbreen.

    3t. Nedre Buarbreen

    Nedre Buarbreen from Buardalen Nedre Buarbreen from Buardalen, June 23, 1986. (96 kB)

    Nedre Buarbreen (13.56 km2), or Buerbreen in the local form, is together with Bondhusbreen on the west side the most well known of the outlet glaciers of Sør-Folgefonna. In addition, it is unusually beautiful with a wide flat plateau gliding down the precipice towards the valley like a breaking wave in a double icefall, down to a glacier tongue in the valley bottom.

    Nedre and Øvre Buarbreen from NE Nedre and Øvre Buarbreen from NE, June 23, 1986. (93 kB)

    Nedre Buarbreen has a wide and very even accumulation zone up on the east slope of the southern ice dome (1638 m) flowing towards northeast in the direction of Buardalen. Very suddenly the ice glides out across the edge towards the valley and a 1.8 km wide and 500 m high icefall is formed, virtually with no warning in the form of crevasse zones at all.

    Nedre and Øvre Buarbreen from N Nedre and Øvre Buarbreen from N, June 23, 1986. (91 kB)

    The northern half of the icefall ends some distance up in the precipice and ice avalanches form avalanche cones down on the glacier tongue, while the southern part of the icefall is continuos in two ice streams, separated by a protruding cliff, right beneath "the breaking wave". The smaller, northern ice stream is extremely steep, but the southern one has somewhat gentler slope, and it might be possible to get up to the plateau above using it.

    The icefall of Nedre Buarbreen from S The icefall of Nedre Buarbreen from S, June 23, 1986. (87 kB)

    The glacier tongue down in the valley, feeded by both the ice streams and by ice avalanches, is fairly even in the upper part, but gets more crevassed lower down. In the middle of the tongue there is a rather prominent medial moraine coming from the cliff between the ice streams. In the lowest part the ice is very heavily crevassed, in a small icefall.

    The tongue of Nedre Buarbreen The tongue of Nedre Buarbreen, June 20, 1999. (86 kB)

    During the Little Ice Age Buarbreen, which then also was continuos with Øvre Buarbreen, reached much farther down into Buardalen than now. The outermost terminal moraine is some 1.2 km from the current position of the ice front, but the time is unusually late: year 1894. In the time after that, and particularly during the mid-20th century, the glacier retreated much up the valley though. In the beginning of the 1980:s the glacier tongue started to slowly advance again, due to increased winter precipitation. Since then the glacier has advanced some 250 m and reaches some 100 m further down in altitude. There are signs hinting that it is now beginning to stabilize though.

    The ice front of Nedre Buarbreen The ice front of Nedre Buarbreen, June 20, 1999. (90 kB)

    Stereo image of the ice front of Nedre Buarbreen

    Nedre Buarbreen from N Nedre Buarbreen from N, June 20, 1999. (86 kB)

    A road leads up to the farm Buar, and from there a path winds up through the valley to Nedre Buarbreen, continuing up the cliffs to Øvre Buarbreen. It takes about one hour to get up to the ice front.

    The icefall of Nedre Buarbreen The icefall of Nedre Buarbreen, June 20, 1999. (73 kB)

    3u. Reindalsbreen

    Reindalsbreen (1.61 km2) is a small ice cap at the eastern edge of Sør-Folgefonna, above Reindalen.

    3v. Svartenutbreen

    Svartenutbreen (6.90 km2) is a rather lage outlet glacier in southeastern Sør-Folgefonna. The ice flows eastwards from the southeastern ice dome (1610 m) through a 1.5 km wide and 200 m high icefall out into two tongues. Both ice tongues are fairly wide and flat and each calves in a little lake.


    4. Træsfonn

    Træsfonn (1.10 km2) is a small cirque glacier on the east side of Træshøgdi (1681 m) east of Sørfjorden in westernmost Hardangervidda.


    5. Solfonn

    Solfonn (1.92 km2) is a small ice cap on the north side of Solfonntaggen (1674 m) north of Valldalsvatnet in southwestern Hardangervidda.


    6. Storfonn

    Storfonn (1.98 km2) is an ice cap on Reinsnosi (1639 m) between Valldalsvatnet and Reinsnosvatnet in southwestern Hardangervidda. What is left now is but a dying remnant of a previously much larger ice cap here, which has fragmented during the 20th century, since the snow line has risen too much.


    7. Nupsfonn

    Nupsfonn (2.44 km2) on Nupseggi (1674 m) north of the Haukeli pass in southwestern Hardangervidda is an in principle dying ice cap. Earlier, during the Little Ice Age, there was a significant ice cap here, perhaps even including Sandfloeggi (1719 m) some distance to the north. During the 20th century it has disintegrated into small languishing remnants though.


    8. Breifonn

    Breifonn (3.01 km2) is an ice cap on a nameless mountain (1616 m) southeast of Røldal, in southernmost Hardangervidda. It is also the southernmost true glacier in Norway.


    The glaciers of Folgefonna larger than 5 km2

    (glacier complexes treated as one unit)

    Name Area (km2) Type District
    1. Sør-Folgefonna 166.46 Glacier complex Folgefonna
    2. Nord-Folgefonna 28.04 Glacier complex Folgefonna
    3. Midt-Folgefonna 12.85 Glacier complex Folgefonna


    The glaciers of Folgefonna larger than 5 km2

    (glacier complexes divided into ice streams)

    Name Area (km2) Type Glacier complex
    1. Blomsterskardbreen 47.45 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    2. Møsevassbreen 15.84 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    3. Nedre Buarbreen 13.56 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    4. Bondhusbreen 13.02 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    5. Øvre Buarbreen 9.71 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    6. Gråfjellsbreen 9.11 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    7. Sauanutbreen 7.98 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    8. Svartenutbreen 6.90 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    9. Rundavassbreen 6.25 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    10. Juklavassbreen 6.04 Ice cap Nord-Folgefonna
    11. Breidablikkbreen 5.79 Ice cap Sør-Folgefonna
    12. Ånutbreen 5.12 Ice cap Midt-Folgefonna


    Start page Top
    Top of
    document
    Previous
    The larger glaciers
    of Hardangerjøkulen
    Up
    The larger glaciers
    of Norway
    Site map
    Site
    map
    Email
    Email the
    author
    Copyleft
    Copyleft
    information
    På svenska
    Detta dokument
    på svenska
    Last updated: June 12, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
    Images with size information (xx kB) leads to the corresponding image in 4 x better resolution.