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Students in Iceland see the melted reality of glaciers

Lilja Einarsdottir, a seventh grader from Iceland, takes an unusual field trip with her class: they measure the Solheimajokull glacier to witness first-hand climate change to see how it shrank last year.

“It's beautiful, but it's also sad to see how molten it is, Lil says Lilja in the autumn cold with a blue pompom hat.

School teacher Jon Stefansson, who retired every October since 2010, brought students over 13 to glaciers to record their evolution from a school in Hvolsvollur, a village about 60 kilometers away.

Results are creepy: Solheimajokull, located between two moss-covered mountain slopes, has shrunk by an average of 40 meters (130 feet) over the last decade, according to students' measurements.

In this eruption of October, young people – armed with a GPS, a measuring tape and two yellow flags – compete against strong winds and calculate distances on foot from various points.

Once finished, some of the students jumped on the boats and crossed the brown meltwater lake to reach an imposing ice wall, the so-called terminus or the front of the glacier.

Here they identify the gap between the handwriting sign and the terminus at the end of a path where previous students record their measurements over the years.

The numbers marked with black sand and fixed by a pile of stones at the base indicate how many meters of ice have disappeared in the past years: "24", "50", "110".

Ja When the first students started here, you couldn't see any water. That's why the first (glacier) was so big. ”

– Under threat of 400 glaciers –

Glaciers cover about 11 percent of the Icelandic surface, including Vatnajokull, Europe's largest ice cover.

However, in the last 25 years they have lost 250 cubic kilometers of ice, or they have accounted for 7 percent of their total volume.

“Many of us now have lakes in front of us, gla says Hrafnhildur Hannesdottir, glaciologist from the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

In August, Iceland presented a plaque to commemorate the Okjokull glacier, which was stripped of its glacial status in 2014.

The plaque was a wake-up call on the effects of global warming, because scientists feared that the island's 400 plus glaciers could go back to 2200.

The student-run Solheimajokull is a popular tourist destination as it is one of the closest to Reykjavik, just 150 kilometers away. Icelandic Mountain Guides, one of the three operators who visited throughout the year, had 27,000 customers in 2018.

Approximately 10 kilometers long and two kilometers wide, Solheimajokull is the exit glacier of Myrdalsjokull, the country's fourth largest ice cover.

Scientists, under the ice here, one of Iceland's most powerful volcano erupted in 1901, and said it took a long time to do again.

The glacier declined 11 meters in 2019, but a significant amount went away from the 110 meters recorded last year.

“It depends on how the ice (and) glacier breaks, Öğretmen explains teacher Stefansson.

"Sometimes there's a big chasm that falls into the water, and then you get a very, very big measurement."

– Proof of global warming & # 39; –

Since starting school measurements, the glacier has shrunk by 380 meters in almost a decade.

Birna Bjornsdottir, 12, says, de When we see this, it's like proof of warming.

Measurements are neither scientifically precise nor formal, but show changes and accelerations in recent years.

Official measurements from the Icelandic Geological Society show that Solheimajokull shrank by 200 meters in 2018 and is among the top three glacial shrinkages in the country.

It has been declining every summer since 1996.

Melting can be observed with the naked eye, drops of water dripping from ice sometimes flow into small streams.

Orum I see a big change in the volume of the glacier: it is much lower than before, Daniel says Daniel Saulite, a Scottish guide who has been working on the glacier for five years.

"There is more cracking ahead, and access is becoming increasingly difficult."

Solheimajokull glacier has shrunk by an average of 40 meters per year over the last decade

Glaciers cover about 11 percent of Iceland's surface

Solheimajokull has been declining every summer since 1996

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