White Glacier, Canadian High Arctic

Mass Balance Factsheet for the White Glacier, Canadian High Arctic

White Glacier is a valley glacier in the Expedition Fiord area of Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut. It extends in elevation from 1782 m to 85 m a.s.l. and at present occupies 39.4 km2, having shrunk by gradual retreat of its terminus from an extent of 40.2 km2 in 1960. Sea-level air temperature in the Expedition Fiord area averages about –20 °C, but the glacier is known to have a bed which is partly unfrozen, at least beneath the valley tongue; ice thickness is typically 200 m, but reaches or exceeds 400 m locally. Annual precipitation at sea level is very low, about 100 mm, although annual accumulation at higher altitudes reaches a few hundred mm. The annual ablation rate at the terminus of White Glacier ranges between –1000 and –4500 mm a–1 w.e., although values between –2000 and –4000 mm/a w.e. are more typical. There is now evidence that the retreat of the terminus, previously about –5 m/a–1, is decelerating. White Glacier’s larger neighbour, Thompson Glacier (384 km2), has been advancing in a state of „slow surge“ since the time of the earliest photographs in 1948, but recent measurements of its terminus show that it has now begun a slow retreat. The terminuses of the two glaciers have been in contact since at least 1948, but, although the two terminuses remain distinguishable, White Glacier has become a tributary of Thompson Glacier. For information on the status of the glacier and on data relating to annual mass balance and other measurements, visit the WGMS Fluctuations of Glaciers Browser.


  • Political unit:CA
  • WGMS ID: 0
  • Latitude: 79.45°N
  • Longitude: 90.67°W
  • Height min: 85 m a.s.l.
  • Height max: 1782 m a.s.l.
  • Measurement types: MASS BALANCE
  • Current Principal Investigator: LAURA THOMSON & Colleagues
White Glacier in 2008 (taken by Jürg Alean on 02/07/2008)

White Glacier in 2008 (taken by Jürg Alean on 02/07/2008)

Terrestrial and satellite map of White Glacier (Google Maps)

White Annual Mass Balance (WGMS, 2016)

White Annual Mass Balance (WGMS, 2016)

Continuous Mass Balance (MB) measurements since 1959/60:


Additional data available: Glacier Outlines:



Selected references: tba


last change 6/04/2023