US: Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) in collaboration with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Iceland Geosurvey have unveiled a single map of all Iceland’s glaciers. The map is the first to incorporate historical data and coverage from aerial photographs and remote sensing satellites, such as Landsat and SPOT, to show the change in the real extent of glaciers during the past century.
The unique map shows 300 glaciers, 269 of which are named. Since the start of the century, the number of identified glaciers has almost doubled. A high proportion have formed over active volcanoes, such as Eyjafjallajökull, which made global news when its 2010 eruption cased widespread disruption to air travel. Volcanic eruptions below glaciers also commonly cause major floods. The new map is also the first to record surge-type glaciers, which suddenly start to move and can travel a number of kilometres in a few months. Subglacier volcanic calderas and their locations with respect to the glaciers are an important feature of the new map. Glaciologist and senior map author, Oddur Sigurðsson, told GIS User: “Iceland”s glaciers have also been revealed to be quite dynamic during the past century.They continue their retreat and lose volume; its ice caps are losing an average of 1 m of ice each year from their surfaces.”