But this entire valley will be ice-free, in the end.”Serious consequences Iceland’s glaciers have always gone through the annual cycle of winter accumulation—when snowfall adds new ice to the glacier—and summer ablation, when the rate of melt exceeds the production of new ice.The sum of the accumulation and the ablation is known as the glacier’s mass balance, which fluctuates naturally from year-to-year and over decades and longer periods.“The history of Iceland shows alternating cool and warm periods,” says Tómas. But anthropogenic, man-made global warming is now of such a magnitude that it’s pulling our climate outside of the natural variations.Closer by, the graceful 1360m sweep of Langjökull blushes pink in the sunset as it slides away to the horizon like a giant frozen wall.In the frigid midwinter, these peaks seem unassailable.“Ok is the largest named glacier to officially disappear,” he says, in his Reykjavík office.
The forcings that humans are creating through emissions of greenhouse gasses are of a similar magnitude. We can expect very serious consequences from our disruption of the climate.”Rising land The list of projected consequences includes isostasy—a process whereby reduced ice removes weight from the earth’s crust, causing the land to slowly rise.
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It’s also, I think to myself, what people probably once thought about Ok.
Not Ok Iceland has 269 named glaciers, from the vast ice cap of Vatnajökull with its many tongues and outlets, to the towering, famously volcanic Eyjafjallajökull overlooking the south coast, and the much-admired snow-hooded Snæfellsjökull, perched on the western Snæefellsnes peninsula.
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