Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Sensitivity of the Hazen Plateau and North Coast, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada to climate change

Carsten Braun, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that the Hazen Plateau and North Coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada are two environmentally-sensitive area where relatively slight changes in meteorological conditions can lead to dramatic changes in snow and firn extent in the short-term, and to a systematic shift in the regional glaciation level in the long-term. The study represents an integrated program of field measurements, data analysis, and data modeling to determine the nature of the land-atmosphere-snow and ice interactions and to quantify the sensitivity of snow and ice cover on the Hazen Plateau and along the North Coast to climate change. The glaciers along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island, specifically the Ward Hunt Ice Rise and Ice Shelf, are today not in equilibrium with climatic conditions and will disappear at some point in the near future unless climatic conditions deteriorate dramatically. Dynamical stresses related to wind, wave, and tidal action may further accelerate this process, as open water conditions on the Arctic Ocean become more prevalent. Mass losses occurring at the bottom of the floating ice shelf are more significant in terms of its stability than the associated surface mass losses. The Hazen Plateau ice caps have experienced considerable marginal recession and significant overall mass loss since at least 1959. The sensitivity of these ice caps to changes in climate is enhanced by the low amounts of winter snow accumulation, the absence of iceflow, and their small vertical relief. They are also out-of-equilibrium with modern climate and considered to be relicts of past climatic conditions with reduced summer melt and/or increased snowfall.

Subject Area

Geography|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Braun, Carsten, "Sensitivity of the Hazen Plateau and North Coast, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada to climate change" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3216942.