Glaciers Of Scandinavia
( Originally Published 1881 )
Immense Fields of Perpetual Snow.—Fountain-heads of Glaciers. :How they are called.—Glaciers North of the Arctic Circle.—Glaciers South of the Arctic Circle.—Different Limits of Perpetual Snow.—Study of Birth and Growth of a Glacier.—Causes of its Formation.
NORWAY stands unrivalled in Europe for the number and the size of its glaciers, and its immense fields of perpetual snow. The latter are called by the Norwegians snebrae, snefonn, (plural snebraeer, snefonner), and by the French névé, that is, the fountain-head, the reservoir, the source of the glaciers.
The principal perpetual snow-fields found within the arctic circle are:
Jedki, on the island of Selland, between lat. 70°-71°, the glaciers of which run almost to the sea.
Jökel, on the Kvaenanger fjord, about lat. 79°, with glaciers running into the sea.
Alkavare, on the Kölen range, near lat. 68°.
Almajolos, east of South Folden fjord, lat. 67°-68°. Sulitelma, east of Salten fjord, north of lat. 67°, situated on the Norwegian and Swedish frontier.
Svartisen, between Ranen and Salten fjords, the greater part of which is north of the arctic circle, is the second largest snefonn in Scandinavia, with a length of over forty-two miles, and covers a space of about sixty-two square miles.
Between the Lyngen and Salten fjords, along the coast, occur numerous snefonner, between lat. 67°-70°, which are not named either in books or on the maps.
South of the arctic circle are :
Oxtinder, just below the arctic circle, south of the Ranen fjord.
Borge snefonner, near lat. 65°, covering a space of twenty English square miles.
Sibmek, south of Borge fjelds.
On the Dovre group of mountains rises Snehaetten, 7400 feet high; a little south of it,Skredsho, 7300 feet ; north-west of these are the Nuns fjelds, Stenskolla, and Skrimkolla, rising to a height of 6600 feet, all of which are clad with mighty fields of snow.
The Surendals range, east of Christiansund and north of Dovre, has large snefonner.
The Sundal range, east of the fjord of the same name, has large snefonner.
The Romdals fjelds, the highest mountain of which is Storhogda, 6500 feet, possess large numbers of snefonner.
The Horning fjelds have large snefonner, which extend as far as Stryn.
The Justedalsbreeen,* the largest of all the fonner of Scandinavia, is situated between the Nord fjord and the great Sogne fjord, and covers a space of eighty-two English square miles.
Lom's range, east of Justedal, with several snefonner.
The Lang fjelds, which include a number of mountain ranges, with snefonner.
On the Jotun, the wildest and highest group of Scandinavian mountains, are found numbers of large fields of perpetual snow.
The Hardanger range, with a row of large snefonner.
The Roldal and Hallingdal groups have several snefonner. The Folgefonn, on Sorfjord, a branch of the Hardanger, is the most southerly snefonn, and covers fifteen English square miles.
There are, besides, numbers of small snow-fields scattered here and there.
The limit of perpetual snow varies : On the island of Sei-land, in Finmarken, lat. 70° 30', it is at 2880 feet above the sea; in the mountains of Dovre, lat. 62° 30', at 5200 feet; on the peninsula of Justedal, on the north-west side of the principal ridge, in Lodalen ; Nordfjord, lat. 61° 47', 4030 feet ; in Befringsdalen Julster, lat. 61° 32', 3570 feet; in Lundedalen Julster, lat: 61° 32', it is as low as in lat. 70° 30 in Seiland, 2860 feet; at the end of Esefjord Tjugum, lat. 61° 17', 4070 feet ; in Vetlefjorden Tjugum, lat. 61° 22', 3580 feet ; in Bojumdalen Fjaerland, lat. 61° 30', it is found lower than on the most northern part of Scandinavia, 2470 feet; in Langedalen }Iafslo, lat. 61° 24', 3360 feet ; in Tunsbergdalen-Justedal, lat. 61° 30', 4570 feet ; in Justedal (inland), lat. 61° 34', 4650 feet; in the Jotun fjelds, for that northern part south of Ottavandet, lat. 61° 40', 4610 feet ; in Folgefonn, with Eidesnum ten, south-west of Odde Vand, lat. 60° 3', 3440 feet ; in Blâdalsholmene, lat. 59° 55', 3940 feet ; in Gjerdesdalen, lat. 61° 8', 2480 feet, but becomes higher as the glacier retires. The glacier coming nearest to the sea next after the Jokel is the Suphellebrwen, on the Fjaerland, the lowest border of which is about 175 feet.
The glaciers are found as far south as lat. 61° 20'. The con-figuration of the country and the climate of Norway are particularly adapted for the formation of snow-fields and glaciers. Almost all, if not all, the latter are found within the western range of the peninsula, not beyond the influence of the sea. Mountains are great condensers of the moisture brought by the winds from the ocean in the form of rain and snow, ac-cording to their height and the season of the year. The large fields of perpetual snow of Norway form immense plateaus, in which a peak or ridge occasionally shows itself.
The study of the birth and growth of a glacier impresses one with the vast amount of time required for its rise and progress. After a certain height, on some of the mountains, the snow which falls during the year never entirely melts ; the amount remaining, to which new layers are added from year to year, in the course of time forms an accumulation of immense depth; the source of the glacier. If the weather were always cold, and the snow always crisp, the formation of a glacier would be impossible, as the fall of snow in the course of time would attain a fabulous height. As a rule, great falls of snow always occur with a temperature a little below freezing-point. Heat is required for the formation of a glacier.
These snow-fields of Scandinavia during the summer months are under the influence of a powerful and long-continued sun-shine, on account of their being so far north; and at that time the thaw of the ice and snow is very great. In the spring) and beginning of the autumn great waste takes place from the rains; the water from the melting snow filters through the layers, and freezing cements the particles, and the lower layers are by pressure converted into solid ice. If the waste of the ice that melts every year exceeds the annual replenishment by snow, the glacier must naturally become smaller, and retires instead of advancing; if there is less waste by melting than the supply, then the glacier will advance. Advancing and retiring glaciers are found to this day in Norway, while for years past those of Switzerland are retiring. In Scandinavia the glaciers are more numerous and largest south of the arctic circle.