Every glacier in Iceland retreated last year except one, some by nearly 100 meters, according to new data from 47 National Energy Authority research stations located near glaciers across the country. The glaciers are retreating at an unusually high rate.
“We have never witnessed the glaciers retreating so quickly before,” National Energy Authority geologist Oddur Sigurdsson told Morgunbladid. Iceland’s glaciers have melted faster for the past ten years compared with the 1930s and 1940s when temperatures were also unusually high.
Sigurdsson said it is natural for glaciers to retreat or extend every year and the larger the glacier is, the further it jumps or slides back. Currently, land is being revealed which has been covered in ice since before 1550.
When the settlers arrived in Iceland in the 9th century AD, the climate was warmer than it is today. It then cooled gradually until the beginning of the 19th century, when the climate grew warmer again.
“It is safe to say that what the glaciers gained in volume [after the 16th century] has melted away during the past 100 years. In the 16th century the glaciers were similar in size to what they are now,” Sigurdsson said.