Ask A Glaciologist: Are Glaciers Melting Too Fast In Iceland?

Ask A Glaciologist: Are Glaciers Melting Too Fast In Iceland?

Published April 5, 2018

Ask A Glaciologist: Are Glaciers Melting Too Fast In Iceland?
Photo by
Art Bicnick
Pieter Bliek
©Kristinn Ingvarsson

One of the arguments that the global warming deniers can’t really argue with is the grim reality of the melting of the glaciers. I asked professor Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir from the Faculty of Earth Sciences at Háskóli Íslands to tell me more about this issue.

Glaciers in Iceland have been nearly continuously losing volume since 1995. The Icelandic Meteorological Office, the National Power Company and the Institute of Earth Sciences measure the mass balance of Hofsjökull, Vatnajökull and Langjökull every year and all of them had negative annual mass balance (more melting in the summer than snow collection in previous winter) since 1994-95, except in 2014-15. In this time Vatnajökull has thinned each year an average amount of 0.7 m, Langjökull 1.4 m and Hofsjökull 1.2 m, which amounts to about 4%, 14%, and 12% of their volumes, respectively.

The glaciers are responding to the warming of the climate and even if the warming would suddenly stop, the glaciers would still continue to lose volume. Climate scientists do not foresee any stop in the global warming with little or no reduction in greenhouse gas emission. That is why we can expect even higher rates of ice melt and mass loss in the coming decades.

Rising of the sea levels caused by the ice melt will create many problems in the coastal areas, and numerous negative changes to our environment are to be expected. Reduction in global warming would require a very rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emission. We should all, with our small individual contributions, try to make the change of climate as slow as possible.

Get more science questions answered here.

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