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Iceland Mag

Nature

Icelandic glaciers continued to shrink last year: 20 out of 23 glaciers measured retreated

By Staff

  • Sólheimajökull glacier One of the outlet glaciers of Mýrdalsjökull. Sólheimajökull has retreated rapidly in the past decades. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Measurements of 23 outlet glaciers of major glaciers show that Icelandic glaciers have continued to shrink during the past year. Measurements of two glaciers suggest those two glaciers might be advancing, while one glacier seems to have held its ground. The initial findings of the annual glacier measurement of the Icelandic Glacier Research Society are published in the society's newsletter (pdf).

The society has conducted the annual measurements of the extent of 40 key outlet glaciers of all the major glaciers of Iceland. The society has detailed continious measurements extending back to 1930, showing changes in the size of Icelandic glaciers. The measurements are conducted by scientists who volunteer their work. Measurements and photographs showing the change in the glaciers is accessible online.

Read more:  Icelandic glaciers have shrunk by 200 cubic kilometers since 1995

According to Bergur Einarsson, a geophysicist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, who oversees the measurements of the Glacier Research Society, told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið tthat the result that two glaciers have advanced must be taken with a grain of salt. Both glaciers extend into lagoons which make it more difficult to measure the extent of the glaciers with precision. Other measurements of the glaciers in question shows they have shrunk, rather than grown.

The reason for the shrinking of Icelandic glaciers, which are feared to have vanished completely in the next two centuries, is global climate change. Rising temperatures and warmer winter rain have increased the amount of melting in the summer. The accumulation of snow during winter is no longer enough to replace the ice which melts in the summer.

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