Photo credit: Simon Ommanney
Photo credit: Jurg Alean
Baby Glacier is a niche glacier occupying 0.61 km2
Expedition Fiord area of Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada (longitude
-90°58', latitude 79°26'). It lies some 8 km west of the terminus of
White Glacier in the same drainage basin as Crusoe Glacier, and extends in
elevation from 715 m to 1165 m above sea level. Ice thickness is unknown but
is probably less than 50 m.
The mass-balance record of Baby Glacier, extending from 1960 to the present
with a 12-year gap (1978-1989), has recently been reassessed (Cogley et al.
1995; Adams et al. 1998). The mass-balance "normal", for 21 years with
measurements from 1960 to 1992, was -101 mm a-1
, with extreme
annual values of -979 mm a-1
and 321 mm a-1
average balance during the 1990s, -266 mm a-1
, was significantly
more negative. The mass-balance time series of Baby Glacier is highly
correlated with the record from stakes on its larger neighbour, White Glacier
), which are within the elevation range of Baby
Glacier. Indeed, correlations are strong with the balance records from White
Glacier as a whole and from more distant glaciers elsewhere in the Queen
Elizabeth Islands. However the balance of Baby Glacier is markedly more
variable from year to year than that of White Glacier. It also appears more
sensitive to temperature fluctuations at the nearest weather station, Eureka:
its balance changes by -300 mm a-1
for a 1-K increase in summer
temperature, a comparable figure for White Glacier being only -74 mm
Photo credit: Rob Hember
Adams et al. (1998) emphasize the value of small glaciers such as Baby
Glacier in monitoring programmes: in addition to the advantage of small size
and therefore manageability, they straddle the regional equilibrium zone and
are thus more sensitive than larger glaciers to year-to-year shifts in
mass-balance forcing. In any one year the "equilibrium zone", defined and
discussed by Adams et al. (1995), is likely to span a few hundred metres in
the vertical, which is a substantial fraction of the elevation range of Baby
Glacier. From year to year the equilibrium zone may shift vertically by a few
to several hundred metres, such that Baby Glacier may be entirely above it or
entirely below it.
Baby Glacier was the subject of an earlier study by Alean and Müller (1977).
Ommanney (1987) and Cogley (1999) document other relevant work. Baby Glacier
was mapped at a scale of 1:5,000, with a 5-m contour interval, as a result of
early efforts by the Jacobsen-McGill Expedition (National Research Council
1965); the map is drawn from aerial photography of 1960.
Adams, W.P., J.G. Cogley and M.A. Ecclestone, 1995, The
equilibrium zone on polar glaciers, Eastern Snow Conference
Proceedings, 52, 211-219.
Adams, W.P., J.G. Cogley, M.A. Ecclestone and M.N.
Demuth, 1998, A small glacier as an index of regional mass balance: Baby
Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, 1959-1992, Geografiska Annaler,
Alean, J., and F. Müller, 1977, Zum Massenhaushalt des
Baby Glacier, kanadische Hocharktis, Geographia Helvetica, 32,
Cogley, J.G., 1999, Axel Heiberg Island: Selected
References on Glaciology, Trent Technical Note 99-2, Department of
Geography, Trent University, Peterborough. 9p.
Cogley, J.G., W.P. Adams, M.A. Ecclestone, F.
Jung-Rothenhäusler and C.S.L. Ommanney, 1995, Mass Balance of Axel Heiberg
Island Glaciers, 1960-1991 -- A Reassessment and Discussion, Science
Report 6, National Hydrology Research Institute, Environment Canada,
National Research Council, 1965, Baby Glacier, Axel
Heiberg Island, Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Map at 1:5,000 scale.
Photogrammetric Research Section, National Research Council, Ottawa, in
conjunction with Axel Heiberg Island Expedition, McGill University,
Ommanney, C.S.L., 1987, Axel Heiberg Island
bibliography. In Occasional Paper 12, 5-55, Department of Geography,
Trent University, Peterborough, Canada. (Also Miscellaneous Paper 2,
Axel Heiberg Island Research Reports, McGill University, Montreal.)