9 Nov 2010

Glaciers didn't shrink last summer

5:00 pm on 9 November 2010

New Zealand's mountain glaciers grew slightly last summer after four years of rapid decline.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has been tracking the end-of-summer snowline of 50 glaciers since 1977.

Since then, South Island glaciers have lost almost a third of their ice; between 2005 and 2009 they retreated by 500 metres.

But last summer the glaciers grew by an average of four metres.

NIWA snow and ice scientist Jordy Hendrikx says an El Nino weather pattern made the summer cooler and wetter and the glaciers melted less.

Dr Hendrikx says the overall trend is still glacier decline, but it shows there can be gains from one year to another.