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Iceland’s receding glacier
April 16, 2001

Remote sensing is providing an excellent way to measure the changes in glaciers over time. The Landsat satellite series has captured the recession of a glacier on Iceland’s largest ice cap over almost a 30 year period. The Breidamerkurjökull (brathe-a-mer-ker-yokull,) an outlet glacier on the Vatnajökull (vat-na-yokull) ice cap, has receded by as much as 2 km since 1973.

Ther image above morphs from what it looked like in the Septembers of 1973 (Landsat 1) and 2000 (Landsat 7). You can see the creation of icebergs in the lake in front of the glacier. In these scenes, bare glacier ice surfaces appear bluish-white, while those covered in snow are bright white. Water surfaces are dark blue and land surfaces appear reddish.

images: NASA/GSFC

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