Monday, June 9, 2008

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During much of the 20th century, Iceland's Breidamerkurjökull Glacier has been shrinking. It has been studied extensively since 1903, when researchers drew up detailed maps which showed that its base is just a few hundred metres from the ocean edge. Over time, the glacier has receded so that its base is now several kilometers from the coast. As the huge river of ice pulled back across the Icelandic landscape, thousands of hectares of fertile farmland have been exposed, and people are populating the area that was until recently buried under tonnes of ice.

In this pair of satellite images, notice how the glacier has receded and the glacial lake at its tip has enlarged over time. Some researchers attribute the shrinking of Breidamerkurjökull to climate change and global warming. Other scientists maintain that the glacier is simply retreating from the advance it made during the Little Ice Age.
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