We meet Einar in his café, in the shadow of the glacier. No longer shifting under its own weight to create glacial currents, Okjökull became still—a once-living mass that glaciologists refer to as “dead ice.”, The “jökull” was stripped from its name accordingly—today, the 1200m peak in Borgarfjörður is now known simply as “Ok.”. Glaciers in Iceland, basic facts: Glacier area: ~11.000 km2, ice volume ~3.600 km3. The Breidamerkurjökull is an outlet glacier, which is part of Vatnajökull--the largest ice cap in Europe. Next week is the United Nations Climate Action Summit. The glaciers receded quickly during the first part of the 20. century but natural climate pattern fluctuations slowed their recession from the sixties to the nineties. “The history of Iceland shows alternating cool and warm periods,” says Tómas. Not all glaciers in Iceland have the honour of having a national park named after them. A plaque's been unveiled in Iceland to remember the first of its 400 glaciers to be lost to climate change. In the Himalayas, Greenland, the Alps and Iceland, the glaciers are all melting. I know we’re not supposed to say that in science—but these glaciers flow down into our lives in really amazing ways, and it enriches who we are.”, New glacier technologies are also emerging that could possibly be put to good use, were the will there to explore them. His Suits Are Snappy And He’s Selling Books By The Kilo, by Sveinbjörn Pálsson and Hannah Jane Cohen 3:43 pm, Your essential guide to life, travel and entertainment in Iceland. And so, we expect similar results. It had happened because of volcanic activity: suddenly there was a depression, and the crack opened up, going down maybe 500 metres into the caldera. That was the last time Iceland’s glaciers gained mass over winter and the only such winter for the past 25 years. I took pictures of it from the beach, and you can compare them to now, and see how much lower the glaciers are today.”, Icelanders haven’t always thought of glaciers as something to treasure and protect. We finish by discussing Iceland’s climate policy—which includes the aim of becoming a carbon neutral country by 2040—and whether anything can be done to preserve the glaciers, and our symbiotic relationship with them. In the Himalayas, Greenland, the Alps and Iceland, the glaciers are all melting. But we’re not having those conversations.”. There can’t be a crevasse here, on the flat ground.’ I stood looking down into it, and my stomach rolled. Iceland's biggest and most widely read tourist publication. “That’s what I wanted to show—the different ways that Icelanders think about ice. Her recently released book, “The Secret Lives of Glaciers,” mixes climate science with an examination of what glaciers mean to us as individuals, communities, and as a species. (Photo by Jeremie RICHARD / AFP) (Photo credit should read. This book is melting.”. The Okjökull glacier died in 2014. “I tested different methods to see if they were appropriate. Scientists found that Vatnajökull glacier lost 3.7 billion tonnes of ice during the Gjálp volcanic eruption in October 1996 and over the summer of 2010, twice the usual amount of ice melted due to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. In a whiteout, it would have put me in danger. They trace the glaciers’ development from their largest at the end of the 19th century to now. Glaciers don’t push back if you measure them, but when you speak to people, a typical analytical approach isn’t going to work. Accessed December 11, 2019. Over a whole century this rise is substantial—a metre, or even several metres. Since then, they’ve receded quicker than before due to global warming. A welcome, familiar feeling returns as my initial shock is replaced by wonder at the sheer sensory overload of the arterial blue ice. Glacier tours abound, with ice climbing, hiking, cave tours and snowmobile adventures attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists to Iceland’s 4,500 square miles of glaciers each year. We’ve had ice ages, and warmer periods than now, which demonstrates that the Earth’s climate goes through large changes. We know that Iceland was completely ice covered during the ice age. Image of floating, iceberg, jokulsarlon - 183243650 But in Iceland, something that struck me as gold is that you can have real conversations about what’s happening, which includes short-term advantages.”, One example of this is the increase in glacier-related tourism. This means the harbour will become worse as the ocean near the coast becomes shallower. Iceland, Langjokull Glacier melting 22x18 (56x46cm) Framed Print (#13294027) Framed Prints, Posters, Canvas, Puzzles, Metal, Photo Gifts and Wall Art. “People certainly used to think of the glaciers as hostile,” says Ragnar. Accessed December 11, 2019. He was born on the next farm over. According to Guðfinna, glaciers melting is one of the most evident results of global warming in the world. “We had to walk over it to get between farms. Nothing showcases glaciers better than Iceland! “Some snow patches remain, but a glacier is by definition a mass of ice so heavy that it flows under its own weight, and has some dynamics. Snæfellsjökull, or "snowy mountain glacier," is one of the lucky few. The Breidamerkurjökull is an outlet glacier, which is part of Vatnajökull--the largest ice cap in Europe. These farmers would be shocked to see how much ice there is today, and how little vegetation. Yet Iceland still has no national strategy in place for adapting to climate change impacts, including melting glaciers. “We can already see a substantial rise in the land around Höfn,” says Tómas. Somehow it was not normal to be walking on a glacier. (CNN) Scientists say they are bidding farewell to Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change, in a funeral of sorts. Over time I’ve gotten to know them and become friends with them. The glaciers have lost close to 16% of their volume in this period. “I remember the feeling when I first dared to walk on it a little: I felt like it was going to swallow me whole. Environment. A grand, continuously updated database of Iceland's main restaurants, clubs, cafes, shops, museums, tours and tourist attractions as well as a thorough events listing. Ok Glacier is the first in Iceland to be formally declared dead ice. How Effective Is Swimming Pool Chlorine At Killing COVID-19? The researchers used Iceland's geodesy network of sensitive GPS receivers to determine how fast the land is rising. U.S. geographer and glaciologist M Jackson has been visiting Iceland and the Vatnajökull region for almost a decade. The image on the left was taken September 14, 1986. Reuters (2017, August 10) As glaciers melt, ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ watches its history seep away. Beyond their rhythmically rippled surfaces, endless seams and patterns vanish into the depths of each crystalline boulder. In the frigid midwinter, these peaks seem unassailable. The glacier became thinner each year until, eventually, the ice in the bowl of the shield volcano stopped moving. Specifically, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are the largest contributors of global sea level rise. According to the newsletter, Iceland’s three largest glaciers have lost about 250 km3 of ice since 1995, corresponding to about 7 percent of their total volume. Guðfinna told Vísir this trend could continue and even grow clearer on a planet that’s heating up. Closer by, the graceful 1360m sweep of Langjökull blushes pink in the sunset as it slides away to the horizon like a giant frozen wall. Photo about Iceland Lake with Melting Glaciers. Iceland has been a barometer of climate change for centuries. Einar says that he’s still continually learning to respect the glaciers. Iceland’s glaciers have lost about four billion tonnes of ice on average for the past 130 years. About half of the ice mass loss happened from autumn 1994 to the autumn of 2019, about 220-260 billion tonnes of ice, which amounts to about 10 billion tonnes per year. The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and, in the longer term, the level of the oceans. Melting glaciers add to rising sea levels, which in turn increases coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons. I view the current reduction in size as a sign of a much bigger problem to come. Scientists from the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences, the Icelandic Meteorological Office, National Land Survey of Iceland, and the National Power Company of Iceland have collected measurements and research of Icelandic glaciers for the past decades and published an article in Frontiers in Earth Science. “The overall retreat there since 1930 is around 1.5 km, and this is a typical magnitude of the retreat,” says Tómas. Photo about Iceland Lake with Melting Glaciers. So you get this very authentic complexity. Zero mass balance turnover: 1,5 - 2 m water equivalent (3-4 m snow) (thickness of layer accumulated in winter and melted in summer assuming mass balance equilibrium at current glacier surface topography). “So back then, the glacier was much smaller than it is today, and it grew over the forest,” he says, carefully turning the log over in his hands. “We should do what we can do, even if the pollution from big eruptions is much larger in scale. A monument is unveiled at site of Okjokull, Iceland’s first glacier lost to climate change in the west of Iceland on August 18, 2019. Melting glaciers add to rising sea levels, which in turn increases coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons. Snæfellsjökull, or "snowy mountain glacier," is one of the lucky few. It’s long term, slow-as-ice research. Iceland has everything we can call true wonders of nature. The 'Land of Fire & Ice' is on the brink. 1 of 16 The melting of the Okjokull glacier in Iceland is vividly displayed in these NASA Earth Observatory photos. “I found a piece of old tree that’s actually from the time when it was a forest. In addition to recording the thoughts of others, M had time to deepen her own relationship with the glacier tongues of Vatnajökull. Fly over Iceland's most famous natural wonders and discover how climate change could make it all disappear. The forcings that humans are creating through emissions of greenhouse gasses are of a similar magnitude. In many ways, Iceland is ground zero for climate change. But anthropogenic, man-made global warming is now of such a magnitude that it’s pulling our climate outside of the natural variations. It wasn’t the first Icelandic glacier to pass away. Download Appening to find out about every single event happening in the greater-Reykjavík area Today. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Embedded in a solid surface at ground level, it’s safe to mill around between the shards. Even as a small country, Iceland’s climate policy is worth celebrating, according to M. “Iceland creating and enacting a climate policy is not necessarily about Iceland,” she says. For Einar, the glaciers have always been a fact of life. And local people stand to lose more than some even know. “A year and a half ago, in October, there was suddenly a huge, endless crack in the middle of the plateau of the crater on the highest mountain of Vatnajökull,” he recalls. The glaciers don’t shrink linearly, and their volume fluctuates every year. Photo: The Glaciological Society’s spring trip to Grímsvötn on Vatnajökull glacier.. We use cookies to improve our services. The research is based on size, volume, and glacier surface measurements gathered over the past decades. Climate change:Why Trump’s panel on … Sitting out on the edge of the world, or the stub sticking westwards out of Iceland’s mainland known as Snæfellsnes peninsula, is one of the more serene, beautifully symmetrical and beloved glaciers of Iceland. Since my last visit, just a couple of years ago, the gentle ice slope up towards the jagged blue snout of the glacier has been replaced by a wide, iceberg-strewn meltwater lagoon. Even if people managed to contain their emission of greenhouse gasses and prevent further global warming, glaciers would continue to melt for decades while they acclimatised to the new conditions. You’d never expect this, but people driving cars could indirectly lead to an increase of volcanic eruptions in Iceland!”, If the projections hold true, these effects will intensify over the coming decades and centuries. But today, glaciers are a huge part of the beauty of this country.”, There’s also irreplaceable information in the ice, says Ragnar. For more images and animations, see Iceland's Receding Glacier. Oddur Sigurdsson is the glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office who pronounced Okjokull's death in 2014. (CNN) Scientists say they are bidding farewell to Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change, in a funeral of sorts. The longest, especially its highest peaks funeral was held for one of the few! 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