One of the must see places on most people’s Iceland agendas is Jökulsárlón. At Jökulsárlón, the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier (an offspring of the parent glacier Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest) spills down from the mountain top to a glacial lagoon where chunks of glacier float sedately in the water before eventually, and this process can take up to five years apparently, they’re washed out to sea where, depending on the tide, they are washed back up onto the black volcanic beach creating, as you can imagine, wonderful photo opportunities. The lagoon has seen a four-fold increase in its size since the ’70’s which I guess has to be a fairly clear indicator that things are warming up.
These pieces of ice now floating, and melting, in the lagoon and ocean were most probably deposited here during the last glacial period, that means these chunks of ice are probably between 11,500 and 21,00 years old. Makes you think doesn’t it?
Here are a few of my pictures along with a video I filmed with my drone at the Jökulsárlón lagoon along with a closer look at the glacier taken over another glacial lagoon, Fjallsárlón. Some of these pictures you’ve seen before, some are new.. :-)
24mm f/10 1/400 sec. ISO-100
35mm f/4 1/160 sec. ISO-100
24mm f/13 1/15 sec. ISO-100
70mm f/22 90 sec. ISO-100
Music Le Onde – Ludovico Einaudi
I’ve posted before about Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake fed by the same glacier, Vatnajökull, that I spoke about in my last post. Huge icebergs that calve from the glacier edge, float in this lake, some for many years until finally, currents send them on their way to the sea. You can see my first post from the lake here. It was also at Jökulsárlón that I saw the seals lazing on the ice and I posted those photographs here.
Visiting for the second time, I found my way onto the beach where some of these icebergs, having made it to the sea, are then washed up onto the black volcanic sand. Huge diamond like chunks of ice litter the beach for hundreds of yards. I happily spent a couple of hours, watching the action of the waves on these huge blocks of ice. These are the photographs I took whilst contemplating this beautiful spectacle.
Leaving the lake behind we soon hit the blizzard that was looming on the horizon in the photographs above. Looking for petrol, we came upon a frozen waterfall, Systrafoss, (sister falls) cascading down smooth rock at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. With the snow falling so heavily, we clearly weren’t seeing it at its best and is definitely on the list of places to visit next time..
Whilst we were in Höfn, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with Vatnajökull at Skafafell. Vatnajökull is the glacier that sits atop the volcano that erupted recently at Bárðarbunga. It was fascinating to see the shapes in the ice, freshly dusted with an icing sugar like powdering of snow. Glaciers can appear very grey and dirty looking in the summer but in winter, they look their best.
Heading out to the glacier there was a track of sorts but this quickly diminished and we were left with the task of finding our way across a gravelly delta of meltwater, streams and ditches. I’m grateful to Poppy of poppytump.wordpress.com for the pictures of Chillbrook tackling the first of many of what turned out to be a very deep ditches.
As we made our way across the delta, out of the blue, we came upon a group of jacked up pick-up trucks with outsize tyres parked around what appeared to be a large hot tub, clearly fed from hot springs below. It seemed so incongruous, in the middle of nowhere with temperatures way below zero and a gale blowing, to come upon half-naked people running around, apparently oblivious to the biting cold, getting in and out of a large wooden tub. We didn’t feel compelled to gate crash this Sunday afternoon hot tub party although it was clear that everyone was having a great time.
With one last push up a very steep incline we made it to a car park of sorts with a fabulous view of the glacier. The lake, which in summer would no doubt offer superb reflections of the mountains surrounding the glacier, was frozen of course in the depths of winter. These are the photographs I took that afternoon..