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Rabots Glaciar and Storglaciaren, two small valley glaciers in the Swedish Arctic, have not behaved synchronously in response to recent climate change. Both glaciers advanced late in the 19th century and then began to retreat in response to an approximately 1 degree C warming that occurred around 1910. By the mid-1980s the terminus and volume of Storglaciaren had essentially stabilized, so it may have completed its response to the earlier warming. In contrast, ongoing thinning and retreat of Rabots Glaciar are substantial and suggest its response time is considerably longer. A time-dependent numerical model was used to investigate each glacier’s response to perturbations in mass balance. This modeling suggests that, for small perturbations, volume timescales for Storglaciaren and Rabots Glaciar are approximately 125 and 215 years, respectively. Another measure of response time (i.e. length response time) yields somewhat lower values for each glacier; however, what is significant is that by either measure and accounting for uncertainties, the response time for Rabots Glaciar is consistently about 1.5 times longer than that for Storglaciaren. This implies that their non-synchronous behavior is likely due to differences in response times. The latter ultimately result from markedly different longitudinal geometries (particularly near the termini), velocity profiles and specific net balance gradients.


Definitive version available from Annals of Glaciology, vol. 46, 2007 (

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