West Northwall Firn

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West Northwall Firn
GrasbergMine ISS011-E-9620.jpg
The West Northwall Firn is the small patch of ice at right center in this 2005 image. The circular depression to the left is the Grasberg mine, the world's largest gold mine
Type Mountain glacier
Location Puncak Jaya, Sudirman Range, Papua province, Indonesia
Coordinates 04°03′3.69″S 137°09′33.93″E / 4.0510250°S 137.1594250°E / -4.0510250; 137.1594250
Area 0.283 km2 (0.109 sq mi)[1]
Terminus Rockfall
Status Retreating

The West Northwall Firn is a glacial body near the peak of Puncak Jaya (sometimes called Mount Carstensz or the Carstensz Pyramid) which is a mountain in the Sudirman Range, western central highlands of Papua province, Indonesia. The glacier is situated at an elevation of approximately 4,750 metres (15,580 ft) and is 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) north of the summit tower of Puncak Jaya.

Puncak Jaya region icecap in 1936.
Puncak Jaya glaciers in 1972. Left to right: West Northwall Firn, East Northwall Firn, Meren Glacier (now disappeared), and Carstensz Glacier. See also animation.

The Northwall Firn split into several separate glaciers since 1936, the largest two remnants being the West Northwall Firm and the East Northwall Firn. Research presented in 2004 of IKONOS satellite imagery of the New Guinean glaciers indicated that in the two years from 2000 to 2002, the West Northwall Firn had lost a further 19.4% of its surface area.[1] An expedition to the remaining glaciers on Puncak Jaya in 2010 discovered that the ice on the glaciers there is about 32 metres (105 ft) thick and thinning at a rate of 7 metres (23 ft) annually. At that rate, the remaining glaciers in the immediate region near Puncak Jaya are expected to last only to the year 2015.[2][3]

The West Northwall Firn is a remnant glacier that was once part of an icecap that developed approximately 5,000 years ago. At least one previous icecap also existed in the region between 15,000 and 7,000 years ago, when it also apparently melted away and disappeared.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kincaid, Joni L.; Andrew G Klein (2004). "Retreat of the Irian Jaya Glaciers from 2000 to 2002" (pdf). 61st Eastern Snow Conference. pp. 147–157. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  2. ^ McDowell, Robin (July 1, 2010). "Indonesia's Last Glacier Will Melt 'Within Years'". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  3. ^ "Papua Glacier's Secrets Dripping Away: Scientists". Jakarta Globe. July 2, 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-23.