Southeast Iceland Town Rising due to Glacier Melt

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Southeast Iceland Town Rising due to Glacier Melt

Höfn, Southeast Iceland

Höfn. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The fishing town of Höfn in Hornafjörður, Southeast Iceland, has risen 15 cm (6 inches) since 1997, visir.is reports. According to Halldór Björnsson, head of climate research at the Icelandic Met Office, the rise is due to glacial uplift as a result of glacier melt.

“What happens when the glaciers retreat and get thinner is that the pressure is eased and the earth lifts up… The southeast coast is rising fast,” Halldór said at the Met Office’s annual meeting recently. Halldór pointed to reports which show that the land has risen 0.8 cm to 1.4 cm per year as a result of the melting of Vatnajökull glacier.

Covering 8,000 km2, or roughly 8 percent of Iceland, the glacier is the world’s largest outside the Polar Regions. The average thickness of the glacier, which contains 3 billion tons of ice, is 400 meters.

If and when Vatnajökull were to disappear entirely, the land would rise 100 meters (300 feet) in the center of the glacier. As a result, the town of Höfn would stand 20 meters higher than today. 

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