"Iceland's Vanishing Ice"

"A land forged by fire and ice is losing the latter. And with the glaciers go a cultural and societal touchstone – for without ice, Iceland 'is just land.'"

"SOLHEIMAJOKULL, Iceland -- A fierce wind shrieks down the glacier slope, flinging ice and grit like a weather-witch from an old Icelandic saga."

"The glacier, Solheimajokull, a tongue of ice reaching toward Iceland's southeast coast, has become an apologue of climate change in recent years: Retreating an average of one Olympic pool-length every year for the past two decades due to climbing temperatures, warming ocean currents and disrupted seasons.

Crouching under 90-mile-an-hour gusts on a stormy autumn day, visitors to Solheimajokull see a rash of dirt cones poking through grey-streaked snow, while piles of rocks, gravel moraines and a now-empty glacial bed about a half-mile away attest to the former reach of this dying giant.

Iceland, lying just below the Arctic Circle, is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet – as much a four times the Northern Hemisphere average. The 300-some glaciers that cover more than 10 percent of the island are losing an average of 11 billion tons of ice a year."

Cheryl Katz reports for The Daily Climate December 18, 2013.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013