River in South Iceland Switches Channels Skip to content

River in South Iceland Switches Channels

By Iceland Review

According to measurements, the western branch of Skeidará river in south Iceland seems to have stopped flowing in its usual channel at 2 am on Monday and switched over to the Gígjukvísl river channel.

The plains of Skeidarársandur and Skeidarárjökull glacier in the background, where Skeidará river has its source. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“We estimate that half of Skeidará is now flowing in Gígja,” Jón Ragnarsson, an employee of the Icelandic Road Administration in Höfn, told Fréttabladid.

Ragnarsson said these changes had been expected, although it had not been foreseen when exactly they would take place. “The glacier [Skeidarárjökull] is receding so much that it has backed up behind the high moraines at the source. So the western part [of Skeidará] now falls to the west in front of the moraines and into Gígja.”

Ragnarsson said that he expects these changes to be permanent, “unless the glacier starts advancing again.” He added that the bridge across Gígjukvísl can handle the increased volume of water for the time being. “But if there is a flood I’m afraid the road might close.”

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