The glaciers of Iceland
The glaciers in Iceland are receding at unprecedented rates. A pioneering glaciologist whose been studying glaciers in Iceland for more than 45 years, Helgi Björnsson, sat down with us to discuss the history of glaciers in Iceland and the impacts that climate change is having on them.
“There has been a dramatic change in our glaciers … especially after 1995. Then they started to lose mass at a very rapid rate … The retreat of glaciers is not linear. It’s going to be faster and faster as they are shrinking more and more.” — Helgi Björnsson
Serious concerns triggered by melting glacial ice include rising seas around the island, an increase in volcanic activity, flooding as the rivers that are fed by glacial melt change course and overflow, a decrease in hydropower capabilities, and, ultimately, a loss of fresh water sources on the island.
The increased volcanic activity is caused by melting that is occurring underground. This increased volcanic activity in combination with the receding glaciers is making the island of Iceland itself rise, about 1.4 inches per year, according to geophysicists on the island who are keeping track. Though 1.4 inches may not sound like much, Iceland is getting higher faster than anywhere else in the world.