Preparations for the Spring Season at Tarfala Research Station

18 March 2022

The short spring season at TRS is of extreme contrast to the extended summer season. Instead of hiking the 24 km from Nikkaluokta one must use a snow scooter, instead of worrying about mosquitos one must be aware of avalanches and one must be even more prepared for the unpredictable infamous Tarfala weather. Yet spring is an essential time in the Tarfala calendar, representing the beginning of the station’s glacier mass balance programme.
Staff at Tarfala station are aiming to continue the mass balance data series of the four Swedish reference glaciers this year. These are Mårmaglaciären, Riukojietna, Rabots Glaciär and Storglaciären, with the latter representing the longest mass balance record of its type in the world. During the spring season the station staff plan to record the winter mass balance at each, by measuring the amount and distribution of snow fall across all four glaciers, as well as drilling a series of ablation stakes that will form the basis for the coming summer mass balance measures later in the year.
At Tarfala station, the staff are in a key location to contribute to the development of understanding of how glaciers are responding to climate change, especially in an amplified Arctic environment. The strong negative trend in mass balance recorded at the glaciers surrounding the station and other Arctic glaciers greatly impact other research programmes at Tarfala, therefore producing accurate and extensive datasets from the upcoming spring season is of vital importance.

Storglaciären beneath Kebnekaise. Photographer: Karuna Sah
Storglaciären beneath Kebnekaise. Photographer: Karuna Sah