Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Europe's largest glacier melting away

STOCKHOLM - The largest glacier in Europe, Iceland's Vatnajokull, is melting away and getting thinner by an average of one metre (about three ft) per year because of a warmer climate, an expert said.

"If the shrinking continues at this pace, there won't be much left of Vatnajokull by the end of the century," glaciologist Helgi Bjornsson told Reuters.

The 900-metre-thick glacier has been shrinking because of reduced snowfall and warming weather in Iceland, he said.

An ancient layer of ice covering 8,000 square kilometres, or eight percent of Iceland, Vatnajokull has become a popular tourist attraction.

If global warming, the effects of which many scientists disagree on, cause the glacier to disappear it could lead to severe flooding in the scarcely populated eastern part of Iceland, Bjornsson said.

See related article on Himalayan Glaciers retreat


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