Almenn verkefni 2024

Heiti verkefnis : 

Future proglacial lake evolution and outburst flood hazard in Iceland

Verkefnastjóri : 


Stutt lýsing á verkefninu:


NOTE: this project was accepted for funding in 2023. Due to collaborator schedules, we were not able to complete field work in summer 2023 and are requesting an extension through 2024. Field work will be finished by the end of 2024, and the final report will be ready to submit by January 2025. 


This project predicts proglacial lake evolution and assesses glacial outburst flood hazard in south Iceland under future climate warming. Icelandic glaciers have lost 20 percent of their ice volume since 1890 and are forecast to lose at least 20 percent more by 2100. Much of this meltwater is stored in proglacial lakes in front of glaciers, which can drain suddenly in outburst floods if a rockfall or landslide enters the lake and generates a wave that overtops the lake dam. These mass movement events will become a greater risk in a warming climate as retreating glaciers remove support from valley walls, permafrost thaw reduces slope stability, and glacier melting accelerates ice collapse. Outburst floods can significantly modify landscapes and impact roads, bridges, and infrastructure, which are receiving increased traffic in Iceland from both domestic visitors and international tourists. Previous studies in Iceland have mapped glacial lake surface areas, projected future glacier changes, and assessed rockfall and landslide risk—but no studies have connected these components. This project investigates this emerging hazard at three glaciers in south Iceland: Sólheimajökull, Fjallsjökull, and Breiðamerkurjökull. It will measure current glacial lake volume; estimate future lake evolution under different climate warming scenarios; identify slope failure “hot spots” that could enter lakes; and model flood dynamics and impacts downstream if an outburst flood occurred. Results will inform hazard mitigation planning, sustainable infrastructure and tourism development, and scientific research both in Iceland and other Arctic and alpine regions.

Tilgangur og markmið:


This project aims to map future proglacial lake evolution and assess glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) risk from mass movements into lakes in south Iceland. It is driven by three research questions: 1) How will proglacial lakes evolve in a warming climate? 2) How will proglacial lake development affect glacial outburst flood risk? 3) How will these emerging hazards impact downstream areas if an outburst flood occurs? We have selected three sites that are ideal locations to study these processes—proglacial lakes at Sólheimajökull, Fjallsjökull, and Breiðamerkurjökull (Breiðárlón at the western glacier lobe). Each site is experiencing rapid glacier retreat and lake formation in steep valleys that are prone to slope failure. Moreover, floods from these lakes would significantly impact downstream infrastructure and communities, including Route 1, bridges, farmland, visitor centers and parking lots, and hiking, boating, and glacier walk tours—all of which are receiving increasing numbers of visitors. Our goal is to produce for each site: 1) comprehensive, high-resolution topographic maps combining lake bathymetry, subglacial topography, and subaerial terrain; 2) estimates of lake volume and surface area change from the present to 2100 under three climate warming scenarios; 3) a map and timeline of potential future hazards from rockfalls or landslides into lakes; and 4) models of flood drainage routes, dynamics, and impacts on downstream infrastructure and communities in the event of a GLOF.