Approximately 11% of the total area of
the country are covered with glaciers. The largest ones are to be found in
the south and in the central highlands. The main reason for their location
is the much greater precipitation in the South than in the
the time, when the country was being settled, the glaciers were small, but
they grew fast, when it started getting colder during the latter part of the
Middle Ages and up the turn of the 19th century. Then they started
retreating until about 1988 and have remained stationary since then.
Travelling across the glaciers was rare in earlier
times, but nowadays hardly a day passes without someone being up there. Such
trips should not be undertaken unaccompanied by the inexperienced
unless accompanied by professionals.
Now the yearly average temperature in
Iceland is 5°C, so there would not have to be a great drop for the glaciers to start growing and advancing again.
The Icelandic glaciers are the so-called thaw-glaciers with
temperatures around 0°C.
Another characteristics of
Icelandic glaciers is the great number of constantly moving glacier tongues.
Sometimes they advance fast and then retreat gradually again until the balance between the
advance and the melting has
been reached. The
glaciers are an important source of water for the electrical production in
the country. Therefore they have been and are still being researched and