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Iceland’s Vanishing Glaciers and the Future of Volcanic Eruptions

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Nimrah Khatoon
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Iceland’s Vanishing Glaciers and the Future of Volcanic Eruptions

As the children play beneath the Snæfellsjökull Glacier in Iceland, experts predict that by the time they reach retirement age, the glacier crowning the volcano will have vanished. Iceland, a country named after its expansive glacial regions, faces a future where all its glaciers, save the largest, are expected to melt away before the close of this century.

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Consequences of a Melting Future

The disappearance of the glaciers is anticipated to result in more frequent and larger volcanic eruptions in the future. The impact of the melting glaciers on the volcanoes is expected to be long-term, particularly affecting those located near or under the glaciers. Half of the ice thickness has already melted away in 150 years, and simulations show that most of Iceland's glaciers may disappear within the next couple of centuries.

From the Eyes of an Observer

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Johanna Asgeirsdottir, a school bus driver from the village of Lysuholl, observes the glacier every day and expresses her apprehension towards the future. She questions what will happen if the ice and snow vanish from the glacier, wondering if the volcano will erupt. The last eruption took place 1,800 years ago, and the remnants of the lava fields from previous eruptions are now buried under a carpet of green moss.

Ecological Impact and Emerging Challenges

The melting glaciers in northern B.C., Alaska, and the Yukon are creating new land and rivers, potentially providing habitat for Pacific salmon and offsetting extensive habitat loss. However, these emerging territories are also luring mining companies, leading to concerns about overuse of groundwater and the ecological and socio-economic impacts. The scenario underscores the need for reformed water allocation rules and sustainable management to mitigate potential impacts on salmon habitat. It also highlights the importance of considering ecology and First Nations rights in future legislation regarding mining claims in the region.

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