Similarities and differences in the response to climate warming of two ice caps in Iceland

S. Guðmundsson*, H. Björnsson, T. Jóhannesson, G. Aǒalgeirsdóttir, F. Pálsson, O. Sigurðsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The transient response to projected climate change of two ice caps in the central Icelandic highland was simulated with a vertically integrated ice-flow model coupled to a degree-day mass-balance model. The ice caps, Langjökull and Hofsjökull, are of similar size (area-900 km2 and volume ∼ 200 km3) and located only ∼30km apart. The climate change simulations were started in 1990 from steady states corresponding to the average climate of 1981-2000 and driven with observed weather parameters until 2005. Thereafter, the forcing was according to a Nordic climate change scenario based on the IPCC B2 emission scenario. The simulations during the period 1990-2005 compare reasonably well with observations of mass-balance and glacier extent. Both ice caps are projected to essentially disappear during the next 100 to 200 years. Langjökull, which disappears within the next 150 years, shows larger mass-balance sensitivity to warming than the higher elevated Hofsjökull, where ice on the highest peaks may last over 200 years. A large proportion of the simulated runoff increase with respect to a 1981-2000 average has already taken place within the period 1990-2005. The runoff will increase further during the next 40-60 years and remain considerably higher than at present until the end of the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalHydrology Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Other keywords

  • Climate change
  • Glacial runoff change
  • Glacier flow model
  • Glacier mass balance
  • Iceland


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