Baby Glacier from the southwest, 1960s; Wolf Mountain to right
Photo credit: Simon Ommanney

Baby Glacier: view from the south, Black Crown Peak in background, 1977
Photo credit: Jurg Alean
Baby Glacier is a niche glacier occupying 0.61 km2 in the 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. The 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 (see Mass Balance Measurements), 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 a-1.

Baby Glacier: terminus, May 2002
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.

Cassiope tetragona - arctic white heather
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, 80A, 37-50.

Alean, J., and F. Müller, 1977, Zum Massenhaushalt des Baby Glacier, kanadische Hocharktis, Geographia Helvetica, 32, 203-207.

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, Saskatoon. 178p.

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, Montreal.

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.)