Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Nature

Iceland's vanishing glaciers will severely affect human life

By Staff

  • Vanishing Snæfellsjökull glacier is already thin from melting and is expected to be the first glacier to fall victim to global warming in Iceland.

The rapid melting of Icelandic glaciers will profoundly affect people's lives in Iceland. Laser scanning of glaciers in Iceland shows they thin by more than one meter a year on average. If global warming continues unabated, they could completely disappear in the next 150 to 200 years.

Hofsjökull glacier has experienced the greatest melting. The observations show that the glacier thinned by a hundred meters from 1986 to 2015. Tómas Jóhannesson, a geophysisist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, tells local news site Mbl.is that the rate of glacier melting now is unprecedented in the recent geological history. The warming and melting have progressed faster than scientists originally thought. 

Changes in glacial rivers can effect power production
The melting of the glaciers will be the most significant effect of climate change in Iceland, in Tómas's view. The disappearance of the glaciers will affect glacial rivers and their seasonal variance. That will in turn affect the hydroelectric power plants that harness the power of the glacial rivers.

Read more: Scientists fear Icelandic glaciers will disappear within the next two centuries

Massive changes in the courses of glacial rivers have already been seen in Iceland, as in the case of Skeiðará on the great sands of the south coast. Tómas argues that this will affect road and bridge construction in the future.

Jökulsárlón
Melt water Global warming has formed Jökulsárlón lagoon in less than a century. Photo/Vísir.

More glacier lagoons will form
In addition, lagoons will form in front of the glaciers from the massive melting which will affect the transport of sediment in rivers. Scientists believe this can affect wildlife in the rivers and the oceans.

Popular tourist attraction Jökulsárlón is the best example of a lagoon formed by glacier melting. Jökulsárlón only started forming in the 1930's but scientists now believe it to be the country's deepest lake.

 

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