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Last updated: May 26, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
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The larger glaciers of Hardangerjøkulen

Hardangerjøkulen from S Hardangerjøkulen from S, June 24, 1986. (56 kB)

To the north of the vast plateau of Hardangervidda the very large ice cap Hardangerjøkulen rises as a white snow dome. In the highland between it and Sognefjorden to the north there are also a large number of small ice caps, and a couple of fairly large ones. The area has a rather maritime climate, but not as extreme as around Folgefonna farther to the southwest.

The highest peak within the area is Folarskardnuten (1933 m) on Hallingskarvet behind Hardangerjøkulen, while the highest ice dome on Jøkulen itself reaches 1863 m. The mountains at the NE side of the glacier are as high, or even higher, but are not anywhere near as glaciated, due to "snow shadow". During the Little Ice Age there were fairly extensive ice fields here, which have melted away almost totally during the 20th century. However, during the very latest years increased snow amounts has caused the snow- and ice-covered areas to increase substantially again.

Contents

  • The larger glaciers of Hardangerjøkulen with basic data


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


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


  • Table over the larger glaciers of Hardangerjøkulen with basic data

    #Name Type Area (km2) Length (km) Lowest point (m) Highest point (m) Height difference (m)
    1. Fresvikbreen Glacier complex 12.21 6.2 1110 1650 540
    1a. of which Helgedalsbreen Ice cap 2.78 2.4 1240 1640 400
    1b. of which Huldabotnbreen Ice cap 3.41 1.8 1110 1650 540
    1c. of which Langafonnbreen Ice cap 1.98 2.7 1365 1650 285
    1d. of which Brevassbreen Ice cap 3.12 2.5 1350 1650 300
    1e. of which Gullsetebreen Ice cap 0.92 1.7 1420 1630 210
    2. Blåskavlen Ice cap 2.57 2.7 1350 1725 375
    3. Storskavlen Glacier complex 9.79 7.5 1320 1710 390
    3a. of which Eitrebreen Ice cap 3.99 2.7 1470 1700 230
    3b. of which Kreklebreen Ice cap 2.76 1.8 1320 1670 350
    3c. of which Hednedalsbreen Ice cap 3.04 2.6 1415 1710 295
    4. Skomabreen Ice cap 2.16 1.6 1450 1655 205
    5. Vargebreen Ice cap 1.24 0.9 1490 1710 220
    6. Omnsbreen Ice cap 1.33 0.6 1410 1600 190
    7. Sanddalsbreen Ice cap 3.49 1.9 1330 1675 345
    8. Kyrkjedørsbreen Ice cap 1.52 1.8 1550 1800 250
    9. Hellevassfonna Ice cap 4.03 1.7 1495 1870 375
    10. Såtaskavlen Ice cap 1.30 1.2 1270 1570 300
    11. Vassfjørabreen Ice cap 2.69 1.5 1155 1630 475
    12. Vassaskavlen Ice cap 2.53 0.9 1245 1580 335
    13. Osaskavlen Ice cap 3.52 1.3 1230 1475 245
    14. Onenbreen Ice cap 2.86 1.9 1240 1620 380
    15. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier complex 78.58 12.7 1010 1865 855
    15a. of which Rembesdalsskåki Ice cap 22.01 8.8 1010 1865 855
    15b. of which Ramnabergsbreen Ice cap 10.61 4.0 1375 1810 435
    15c. of which Bukkeskinnbreen Ice cap 3.82 3.2 1400 1810 410
    15d. of which Midtdalsbreen Ice cap 7.22 5.0 1320 1865 545
    15e. of which Blåisen Ice cap 6.90 4.5 1370 1865 495
    15f. of which Torsteinsfonna Ice cap 3.61 3.1 1380 1770 390
    15g. of which Austre Leirbotnskåki Ice cap 8.30 4.8 1195 1850 655
    15h. of which Vestre Leirbotnskåki Ice cap 9.95 5.9 1175 1835 660
    15i. of which Isdølskåki Ice cap 4.29 2.2 1440 1825 385
    15j. of which Tresnutbreen Ice cap 1.87 2.3 1380 1770 390
    Total 129.82


    1. Fresvikbreen

    Fresvikbreen (12.21 km2) is a large ice cap in the northernmost Hardangerjøkulen area, southwest of Fresvik at the south side of Sognefjorden. It lies high up on the mountain plateau and has a small number of short outlets, which do not extend down very far. The highest point on the glacier is an ice dome at 1648 m asl.

    1a. Helgedalsbreen

    Helgedalsbreen (2.78 km2) is an outlet towards the north from Fresvikbreen. It ends in a small lake above the sheer cliff towards the wild Helgedalen.

    1b. Huldabotnbreen

    Huldabotnbreen (3.41 km2), a short, wide, steep and crevassed outlet of Fresvikbreen, forms its eastern flank high above the rather inaccessible Huldabotnen. The ice front is very fragmented into many small tongues, on both sides of the crag Huldakyrkja.

    1c. Langafonnbreen

    Langafonnbreen (1.98 km2) is a fairly long outlet towards the south from Fresvikbreen. The tongue is fairly wide and flat.

    1d. Brevassbreen

    Brevassbreen (3.12 km2) is an outlet of Fresvikbreen, stretching westwards from the ice dome, and which then turns down towards SW and Øvra Brevatnet.

    1e. Gullsetebreen

    Gullsetebreen (0.92 km2), a small ice cap in northwestern Fresvikbreen, is hanging in the mountain side above Gullsetedalen.


    2. Blåskavlen

    Blåskavlen (2.57 km2) is a medium-sized ice cap on the east side of a nameless mountain at some 1810 m asl, east of Aurlandsfjorden. Earlier it has been considerably larger, but it has fragmented.


    3. Storskavlen

    Storskavlen (9.79 km2) is a fairly large ice cap between Aurlandsfjorden and Hardangerjøkulen. It is pretty inaccessible and unknown.

    3a. Eitrebreen

    Eitrebreen (3.99 km2) is an ice cap in western Storskavlen, at the edge of Skavlaklørne.

    3b. Kreklebreen

    Kreklebreen (2.76 km2) is a small outlet at the northeast side of Storskavlen. A couple of narrow, steep ice tongues lead down into Hednedalen.

    3c. Hednedalsbreen

    Hednedalsbreen (3.04 km2), the southeastern outlet of Storskavlen, slopes down evenly towards Hednedalen.


    4. Skomabreen

    Skomabreen (2.16 km2) is a thin ice cap on the east side of Skomanosi.


    5. Vargebreen

    Vargebreen (1.24 km2) is a small ice cap south of Store Vargevatnet.


    6. Omnsbreen

    Omnsbreen (1.33 km2), an elongate thin ice cap, lies on the east side of Såtehjellane.


    7. Sanddalsbreen

    Sanddalsbreen (3.49 km2) is a fairly large though thin ice cap west of Flakavassnutane.


    8. Kyrkjedørsbreen

    Kyrkjedørsbreen (1.52 km2) is a small and thin ice cap south of Kyrkjedørsnuten in western Hallingskarvet.


    9. Hellevassfonna

    Hellevassfonna (4.03 km2) is a quite large, but thin ice cap west of Folarskardsnuten in Hallingskarvet. Like other small ice caps in the area it has grown during the very latest years.


    10. Såtaskavlen

    Såtaskavlen (1.30 km2) is a small ice cap on the north side of Skorafjellet, north of Osafjorden.


    11. Vassfjørabreen

    Vassfjørabreen (2.69 km2) is a small ice cap on Vassfjøra (1633 m) north of Osafjorden.


    12. Vassaskavlen

    Vassaskavlen (2.53 km2) is a small ice cap on Ruvlenuten.


    13. Osaskavlen

    Osaskavlen (3.52 km2), a lobate thin ice cap, lies on Hovden northeast of Norddalen.


    14. Onenbreen

    Onenbreen (2.86 km2) is a small ice cap on Onen (1621 m), to the north of Eidfjorden.


    15. Hardangerjøkulen

    Hardangerjøkulen from the air and S Hardangerjøkulen from the air and S, June 18, 1993. (85 kB)

    Hardangerjøkulen (78.58 km2) is a very large ice cap east of Eidfjorden at the northern edge of Hardangervidda, and the 6th in size in Norway. It is a very classical ice cap, almost circular in shape, sending out outlets in all directions. The altitude of Hardangerjøkulen´s plateau is some 200 m higher than is the case for its neighbor Folgefonna, something required due to the lower precipitation. Parts of the bottom topography of Hardangerjøkulen have been charted by NVE, and the largest measured ice thickness is some 350 m.

    The largest outlet glacier is Rembesdalsskåki, but Vestre Leirbotnskåki and Ramnabergsbreen are significant as well. The outlets are generally relatively even, and there are only a few small icefalls. After having retreated much during the 20th century Hardangerjøkulen has begun to increase again - the upper parts have become much thicker, and some outlets have already started to readvance.

    The surface topography of Western 
Hardangerjøkulen The surface topography of Western Hardangerjøkulen. (15 kB)
    The bottom topography of Western 
Hardangerjøkulen The bottom topography of Western Hardangerjøkulen. (23 kB)
    The ice thickness of Western 
Hardangerjøkulen The ice thickness of Western Hardangerjøkulen. (21 kB)

    Parts of the bottom topography of Hardangerjøkulen, in principle Rembesdalsskåki, has been mapped by NVE. There are several overdeepened basins, both below and above the icefall; the upper one is quite large and displays the highest measured ice thickness in the area, some 355 m. The 29.8 km2 large measured area has a volume of 5.2 km3 and an average depth of 175 m.

    15a. Rembesdalsskåki

    Rembesdalsskåki and Demmevatnet from 
N Rembesdalsskåki and Demmevatnet from N, September 30, 2000. (40 kB)

    Rembesdalsskåki (22.01 km2) is the largest outlet glacier of Hardangerjøkulen, flowing westwards from the highest ice dome (1863 m). Its upper parts are very even with only a couple of small nunataks, e.g. Olavsvarden. Up there is a large overdeepened basin below up to 350 m ice. Then the ice is concentrated in a mighty ice tongue flowing across a rock edge, where a 700 m wide and 200 m high icefall is formed. Below the icefall the tongue spreads out into a fairly flat section with up to 200 m thick ice before the southern side slides out across a rock slope in a quite steep and crevassed ice front. Stereo image of Rembesdalsskåki and Demmevatnet from N.

    Rembesdalsskåki from S Rembesdalsskåki from S, September 30, 2000. (140 kB)

    The glacier tongue collides with the mountain Luranuten and splits up. A small part is directed to the north where it ends with a 200 m wide and 20 m high ice cliff in the ice-dammed lake Nedre Demmevatnet. Earlier, when the ice was thicker, the level in Demmevatnet was higher and the volume much larger. Then flood disasters happened now and then when the lake emptied in a so-called Jökulhlaup. The water torrent then rushed down into lake Rembesdalsvatnet, and from there in an incredible waterfall (Rembesdalsfossen) down into the deep valley of Simadalen, where the flooding caused widespread damage. It was especially severe in 1893, and in 1899 a drainage tunnel was blasted out.

    Crevasses in Rembesdalsskåki Crevasses in Rembesdalsskåki, September 30, 2000. (74 kB)

    The lake kept quiet until 1937, when there was a severe flood despite the tunnel. This because the now thinner glacier no longer could hold back even the smaller lake. Demmevatnet emptied in 3 hours as 12 million m3 water gushed down into Simadalen and turned the valley bottom into a 300 m wide river with rocks, gravel, uprooted trees and ice blocks all in a jumble. A similar flood happened the following year before a new tunnel could be finished. The lake has been quiet ever since and nowadays its water is piped to the large Sima powerplant. Stereo image of crevasses in Rembesdalsskåki.

    The crevassed front of 
Rembesdalsskåki The crevassed front of Rembesdalsskåki, September 30, 2000. (74 kB)

    On the mountain side a small distance above the glacier tongue Demmevasshytta (DNT) sits, where glacier courses are often held. NVE has performed mass balance measurements on Rembesdalsskåki since 1963, and in the time span between then and 2000 the outlet glacier has had a net mass surplus of 8.1 m water equivalent, distributed across the entire surface. During most of the 20th century the tongue of Rembesdalsskåki was in retreat from the maximum position during the Little Ice Age some 1.4 km out into Rembesdalsvatnet. Since around 1990 the glacier tongue has begun to advance again though, with some 150 m. Now the ice front stands roughly 2.0 km from its maximum position. From the end of the road in innermost Simadalen you can get up to Rembesdalsskåki using an at the start steep path in some 3 hours.

    The ice cliff of Rembesdalsskåki The ice cliff of Rembesdalsskåki, September 30, 2000. (61 kB)

    Stereo image of the ice cliff of Rembesdalsskåki.

    Maps based on data from Elvehøy, Hallgeir et al; Jøkullaup fra Demmevatn, supplemented by own observations.

    15b. Ramnabergsbreen

    Ramnabergsbreen from SW Ramnabergsbreen from SW, September 30, 2000. (102 kB)

    Ramnabergsbreen (10.61 km2) is a wide and gently sloping outlet glacier from northwestern Hardangerjøkulen. It ends with a 900 m wide front in a nameless lake, but has no ice cliff except in as small part. This implies that the lake is fairly shallow.

    The snout of Ramnabergsbreen The snout of Ramnabergsbreen, September 30, 2000. (76 kB)

    The ice tongue is still retreating, but the rest of the outlet has increased in area during the latest years. Another part of the glacier ends in two small ice cliffs in Ramnabergsvatnet. It is a two hour walk from Finse to Ramnabergsbreen.

    Moulin on Ramnabergsbreen Moulin on Ramnabergsbreen, September 30, 2000. (71 kB)

    Stereo image of moulin on Ramnabergsbreen.

    15c. Bukkeskinnbreen

    Bukkeskinnsbreen from NE Bukkeskinnsbreen from NE, September 30, 2000. (57 kB)

    Bukkeskinnbreen (3.82 km2) is a small outlet glacier in northern Hardangerjøkulen. It flows out through a narrow opening north of Bukkeskinnshjellane (1759 m), down towards Finsevatnet.

    15d. Midtdalsbreen

    Midtdalsbreen from N Midtdalsbreen from N, September 30, 2000. (164 kB)

    Midtdalsbreen (7.22 km2) is a fairly large outlet glacier in northern Hardangerjøkulen. It starts in the depression Midtdalen north of the highest ice dome (1863 m) and flows through a narrow pass southeast of Bukkeskinnshjellane. In the upper part the ice is at least 300 m thick, and there is a deep and 500 m long wind channel on the north side of the ice tongue. Then the flat and even tongue spreads out on its way down in the direction of Finsevatnet.

    Midtdalsbreen has advanced slightly during the latest years. During the Little Ice Age the ice front stood about 1.4 km further out in the valley than today. From Finse it is roughly a one hour walk to Midtdalsbreen on a good path. Just before the snout lies the small shelter Appelsinhytta ("The Orange hut").

    15e. Blåisen

    Blåisen from N Blåisen from N, September 30, 2000. (56 kB)

    Blåisen (6.90 km2), a pretty large outlet of eastern Hardangerjøkulen, glides down eastwards from the highest ice dome (1863 m). On a nunatak in its upper part lies the small shelter Jøkulhytta. Stereo image of Blåisen from N.

    The crevassed front of Blåisen The crevassed front of Blåisen, September 30, 2000. (65 kB)

    The ice turns towards northeast and reaches a steep slope near the snout. The lowest part of the tongue is thus quite steep and crevassed, and has advanced somewhat during the last few years. The ice front now stands some 700 m behind the outermost terminal moraines from the Little Ice Age. You can get to Blåisen in 1 hour from Finse.

    Blåisen from NE Blåisen from NE, September 30, 2000. (88 kB)

    15f. Torsteinsfonna

    Torsteinsfonna (3.61 km2) is an ice cap in the eastern part of Hardangerjøkulen. It has increased in size during later years.

    15g. Austre Leirbotnskåki

    Austre Leirbotnskåki from 
S Austre Leirbotnskåki from S, June 24, 1986. (66 kB)

    Austre Leirbotnskåki (8.30 km2), a quite large outlet glacier in southeastern Hardangerjøkulen, glides down towards southeast from the central ice dome.

    Austre Leirbotnskåki from 
SE Austre Leirbotnskåki from SE, October 1, 2000. (51 kB)

    The rock shelf surrounding the entire Hardangerjøkulen is unusually high and steep here, and Austre Leirbotnskåki has here, west of Matskardnipa (1637 m), a real 400 m wide and 400 m high icefall. The bottommost part of the icefall is so steep that ice tumbles down the cliffs, forming an avalanch cone below. Stereo image of Austre Leirbotnskåki from SE.

    The icefall of Austre 
Leirbotnskåki The icefall of Austre Leirbotnskåki, October 1, 2000. (127 kB)

    The glacier tongue has advanced somewhat during the latest years and the ice front now stands some 200 m further out and 100 m lower down compared to its minimum. During the Little Ice Age the ice front stood in the lake Skåltjørni, 800 m farther out than now.

    The avalanche cone of Austre 
Leirbotnskåki The avalanche cone of Austre Leirbotnskåki, October 1, 2000. (72 kB)

    15h. Vestre Leirbotnskåki

    Vestre Leirbotnskåki from 
S Vestre Leirbotnskåki from S, June 24, 1986. (65 kB)

    Vestre Leirbotnskåki (9.95 km2) is a large outlet from southern Hardangerjøkulen. Its even upper parts have an ice thickness of more than 300 m in places. Then the ice slowly flows to the south towards the rock edge, a rather more steep and crevassed part where the ice is concentrated before it spreads out again in a wide and flat glacier tongue east of Juklanutane (1660 m).

    Vestre Leirbotnskåki from 
E Vestre Leirbotnskåki from E, October 1, 2000. (66 kB)

    Vestre Leirbotnskåki is probably still in slow retreat. Now the ice tongue stands some 1.2 km behind its position during the Little Ice Age. It takes between one half and one day to get to both Vestre Leirbotnskåki and its eastern neighbor Austre Leirbotnskåki, both from Finse and from the road in the south.

    15i. Isdølskåki

    Isdølskåki from S Isdølskåki from S, October 1, 2000. (54 kB)

    Isdølskåki (4.29 km2) is a medium-sized outlet glacier in southwestern Hardangerjøkulen. It is a system of steep and crevassed ice tongues surrounding a narrow valley with steep sides and an elongate lake. The valley was entirely filled by a glacier tongue during the Little Ice Age; then the ice front stood about 1.7 km further out than today.

    15j. Tresnutbreen

    Tresnutbreen (1.87 km2) is a small outlet in southwestern Hardangerjøkulen. It has a relatively narrow and steep glacier tongue.


    The glaciers ofHardangerjøkulen larger than 5 km2

    (glacier complexes treated as one unit)

    Name Area (km2) Type District
    1. Hardangerjøkulen 78.58 Glacier complex Hardangerjøkulen
    2. Fresvikbreen 12.21 Glacier complex Hardangerjøkulen
    3. Storskavlen 9.79 Glacier complex Hardangerjøkulen


    The glaciers of Hardangerjøkulen larger than 5 km2

    (glacier complexes divided into ice streams)

    Name Area (km2) Type Glacier complex
    1. Rembesdalsskåki 22.01 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen
    2. Ramnabergsbreen 10.61 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen
    3. Vestre Leirbotnskåki 9.95 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen
    4. Austre Leirbotnskåki 8.30 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen
    5. Midtdalsbreen 7.22 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen
    6. Blåisen 6.90 Ice cap Hardangerjøkulen


    Start page Top
    Top of
    document
    Previous
    The larger glaciers
    of Jotunheimen
    Up
    The larger glaciers
    of Norway
    Next
    The larger glaciers
    of Folgefonna
    Site map
    Site
    map
    Email
    Email the
    author
    Copyleft
    Copyleft
    information
    På svenska
    Detta dokument
    på svenska
    Last updated: May 26, 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.