Nigardsbreen and Nigardsvatnet photographed on 11th October 2006. Photo: Miriam Jackson
Nigardsbreen and Nigardsvatnet photographed on 11th October 2006. Photo: Miriam Jackson

Nigardsbreen (61°42'N, 7°08'E) is one of the largest and best known outlet glaciers from the Jostedalsbreen ice cap. It has an area of 46 km2 (2013) and flows southeast from the centre of the ice cap. It accounts for about 10 % of the total area of Jostedalsbreen. Nigardsbreen range from 1952 to 330 m a.s.l., with 88 % of its area located above 1400 m a.s.l. The large upper part of the glacier is a plateau, with an even gently sloping surface down to about 1400 m a.s.l. Between 1300 and 800 m a.s.l. the glacier flows through a heavily crevassed icefall. The distance along a central flow line is about 9 km, from the upper ice divide north-west of Kjenndalskruna, to the glacier terminus. The terminus has been land-based since 1973, but calved previously into the lake Nigardsbrevatnet. See photos of the glacier.

Glaciological investigations include mass balance observations since 1962 and glacier length change measurements since 1899. The results can be viewed and downloaded from NVEs glacier data portal.

Mass Balance
Results from NVE’s mass balance measurements on Nigardsbreen are published in the series 'Glaciological investigations in Norway'.

Glacier length change
Since the length change measurements started in 1899 the frontal retreat of Nigardsbreen has been mora than 2.5 km. The greatest recession occurred in the period 1940-1970. From 1988 to 2003, however, the glacier length increased with 280 metres. After 2003, the frontal retreat has continued.


Andreassen, L. M., H. Elvehøy, B. Kjøllmoen, and R. V. Engeset. 2016. Reanalysis of long-term series of glaciological and geodetic mass balance for 10 Norwegian glaciers, The Cryosphere, 10, 535-552, doi:10.5194/tc-10-535-2016. (pdf)

Haakensen, N. (ed.) 1996: Changing glaciers. Field guide to excursions in conjunction with symposium in Fjærland, Norway, June 1996, 132 p.

Johannesson, T., O. Sigurdsson, T. Laumann, and M. Kennett. 1995: Degree-day glacier mass-balance modelling with applications to glaciers in Iceland, Norway and Greenland. Journal of Glaciology No. 41, 138, p 345-358. (NVE Meddelelse 91)

Kawamura, T., Y. Fujii, K. Satow, K. Kamiyama, K. Izumi, T. Kameda,
O. Watanabe, S. Kawaguchi, B. Wold and Y. Gjessing. 1989: Glaciological characteristics of cores drilled on Jostedalsbreen, Southern Norway. Proceedings on the NIPR Symposium on Polar Meteorlogy and Glaciology No 2, p 152-160. (NVE Meddelelse 73)

Kjøllmoen, B. 2016. Reanalysing a glacier mass balance measurement series – Nigardsbreen 1962–2013. NVE Rapport 30, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate. (pdf)

Bjarne Kjøllmoen (Ed.), Liss M. Andreassen, Hallgeir Elvehøy, Miriam Jackson and Rianne H. Giesen, 2011: Glaciological investigations in Norway in 2010. NVE Report 3 2011, 89 p. +app.

Laumann, T. and N. Reeh. 1993: Sensitivity to climate change of the mass balance of glaciers in southern Norway. Journal of Glaciology No. 39, p 656-665. (NVE Meddelelse 84)

Oerlemans, J. 1986: An attempt to simulate historic front variations of Nigardsbreen, Norway. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 37, p 126-135.

Oerlemans, J. 1992: Climate sensitivity of glaciers in southern Norway: application of an energy-balance model to Nigardsbreen, Hellstugubreen and Alfotbreen. Journal of Glaciology 38, p 223-232.

Oerlemans, J. 1997: A flow-line model for Nigardsbreen: projection of future glacier length based on dynamic calibration with the historic record. Annals of Glaciology 24, p 382-389.

Sætrang, A.C. and B. Wold. 1986: Results from the radio echo-sounding on parts of the Jostedalsbreen ice cap, Norway. Annals of Glaciology No. 8, p 156-158. (NVE Meddelelse 55)

Østrem, G. and V. Karlén. 1961: Nigardsbreens hydrologi. Norsk geografisk Tidsskrift nr.18, p 156-202. (NVE Meddelelse 2)

Østrem, G., O. Liestøl, and B. Wold. 1976: Glaciological investigations at NigardsbreenNorway. Norsk geografisk Tidsskrift nr. 30, p 187-209. (NVE Meddelelse 36)