Modelling studies

Several modelling studies of the response of the Vatnajökull ice cap to climate change have been carried out. The models indicate that after 200 years there will only be small ice caps on the highest mountains of Vatnajökull, i.e. on Öræfajökull, Bárðarbunga and on the plateau between Grímsvötn, Bárðarbunga and Kverkfjöll mountains. Vatnajökull could lose ca 25% of its current volume within the next 50 years. Simultaneously, the runoff from the ice cap will increase due to increased ablation and remain higher than today well into the 22nd century, or until the ice reservoir has been substantially depleted. These runoff changes will have an impact on the hydropower industry and other infrastructure.

 

Simulated areal extent of Vatnajökull for the reference model and after 100, 150, and 200 years of warming with no change in precipitation. The assumed warming rates are as follows: (a) 1°C; (b) 2°C; (c) 3°C; and (d) 4°C per century. Source: Modified after Flowers et al. (2005).

Simulated areal extent of Vatnajökull for the reference model and after 100, 150, and 200 years of warming with no change in precipitation. The assumed warming rates are as follows: (a) 1°C; (b) 2°C; (c) 3°C; and (d) 4°C per century. Source: Modified after Flowers et al. (2005).