Receding Glaciers in Iceland Reveal New Landscape Skip to content

Receding Glaciers in Iceland Reveal New Landscape

Warming temperatures are causing Iceland’s glaciers to recede more rapidly than in the past centuries. Scientists recently discovered a new glacial river and a majestic waterfall where Brúarjökull, a branch of Vatnajökull, is receding in the eastern highlands.

The waterfall, which is called Nýifoss, is 70 to 80 meters wide and about 15 meters high, but it does not have much water volume. Glacial rivers rarely have much water in winter, Morgunbladid reports.

Brúarjökull is, however, known for moving back and forth every 100 years or so, which means that it is constantly revealing and hiding the same landscape. Therefore, scientists expect the glacier to swallow the new river and waterfall again at some point in the future.

“There are many curious things there to observe and study,” said glaciologist and geologist Ívar Örn Benediktsson, a PhD student at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

Benediktsson has studied Brúarjökull and other parts of Vatnajökull glacier since 2003, both in relation to his university projects and with other scientists as part of a larger Nordic project.

“The glacier has a very interesting history of onrush and has rushed on by between eight and ten kilometers every 80 to 100 years at least since 1625,” Benediktsson said.

“The group’s interest is mainly aimed at investigating the remarkable landscapes the glacier makes while rushing forward and what information they have about the processes involved,” Benediktsson explained. “We also want to investigate what causes the incredible speed of the onrushes.”

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