Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in all of Europe. Its mass is so large that it would cover the entire state of Rhode Island and that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Icelandic Glaciers are concerned. During the Ice Age, Iceland was completely covered in snow and glacier ice and as it slowly melted away the landmass of the island took over. Then again in the Middle Ages into the 19th Century, glaciers once again covered all of the Iceland.
Sizes of Icelandic Glaciers
Icelandis Glaciers come in all types of sizes and their name typically represents their size. The smallest glaciers that can be found in mountain valleys are called alpine glaciers or valley glaciers. Larger glaciers are called ice caps; these ice caps will cover entire mountain ranges and volcanoes. Most of the glaciers in Iceland are considered ice caps. These ice caps spread over the area of thousands of square kilometers. The drainage of the glaciers that looks like a large tongue is called “outlet glacier”.
Icelandic climate contributes in great deals to the giant size of their glaciers. There is an interesting balance between the frozen mass at top and the slow melting mass at the bottom of these giant blocks of ice.
Exploring Icelandic Glaciers
Traveling across Icelandic Glaciers (or any glacier for that matter) is a fairly new activity. Walking up on a glacier used to be considered dangerous practice until 1950’s. Betterments in modern technology allow us to explore the unexplored so when weather is good, many visitors to Iceland make it out across their glaciers. Despite advanced technology, exploring glaciers should be left to experienced travellers or those familiar with the area. If you’re a first time visitor to Iceland or if it’s your first time on a glacier, it’s strongly recommended that you take an organized tour. There are many tour guides available across Iceland that can take you out on a snow mobile, a super jeep or a dig sled to show you the terrain.
Blue Ice AR Tour by Iceland Total
Exploration of glaciers is one of larger tourist attractions in Iceland. A company called Iceland Total offers glacier exploring trips called Blue Ice AR. Iceland Total leaves daily from their location in Reykjavik at 9:00. Blue Ice AR is a one day trip that will take you to the frozen tongue of the Sólheimajökull glacier. Make sure you pack a water proof jacket and pants. The guides from Iceland Total will teach you how to climb the ice. It is a great experience – you will be hooked up to a safety line to make sure you are a 100% safe. You need not bring any tools either as they will provide the axes and the rest of the equipment required. On the way back they will surprise you with a trip by the Skógafoss waterfall.
Studying Icelandic Glaciers
Iceland has become one of the top spots for scientists to study glaciers. Over 10 percent of the Island is covered by glaciers which accounts for over 4,000 square miles. Vatnajökull which is in the southeast area of Iceland is a big as all of the glaciers in Europe combined. Most of the Iceland’s glaciers are located on the southern part of island which is due to more frequent rains in this half of the country.
The Icelandic Glaciers are a sight to behold and they give Iceland its one of a kind appeal.
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