|Primary inflows||Breiðamerkurjökull glacier|
|Primary outflows||Atlantic Ocean|
|Max. length||1.5 km (0.93 mi)|
|Surface area||18 km2 (6.9 sq mi)|
|Max. depth||200 metres (660 ft)|
|Water volume||3,000 hm3 (9.8×109 ft)/sec <range 2500- 3000>|
|Surface elevation||0m, Sea level|
Jökulsárlón (literally "glacial river lagoon") is a large glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of Breiðamerkurjökull, it evolved into a lagoon after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the Icelandic glaciers. The lagoon now stands 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 metres (814 ft) depth as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lagoon has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
The lagoon can be seen along Route 1 between Höfn and Skaftafell. It presents a picturesque parade termed as “A ghostly procession of luminous blue ice-bergs through the 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi) (18 km2 (6.9 sq mi) as reported in other sources) Jokulsarlon Lagoon”.
Jökulsárlón has been a setting for four Hollywood movies -- A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins -- in addition to the reality-TV series Amazing Race. A postage stamp depicting Jökulsárlón was issued in 1991 with a face value of 26 krónur.
The tongue of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is a major attraction for tourists. Tour operators conduct snowmobile and jeep tours to visit the glacier along the winding iceberg-studded Jökulsárlón Lagoon. The base station for visits to the area is at Joklasel, which is approached from Hofn.
The first settlers arrived in Iceland around 900 AD when the edge of the glacier tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier was about 20 kilometres (12 mi) further north of the present location. During the Little Ice Age between 1600 and 1900 AD, with cooler temperatures prevailing in these latitudes, the glacier had grown up to about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the coast at Jokulsa River, till about 1890. With temperatures rising between 1920 and 1965, changes started occurring in the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue. It started retreating at a fast rate with the continuing process of calving and falling of icebergs of varying size, and thus creating a lagoon in its wake, around the years 1934–35. The lagoon is about 200 metres (660 ft) deep where the glacier snout originally existed. Glacial moraines got exposed on both sides of the lagoon. In 1975, the lagoon was about 8 km2 (3.1 sq mi) in area and now it is reportedly stands at 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi) at the edge of the glacier tongue.
The Jökulsárlón lagoon provides outstanding views of the Ice Cap, which is a vast dome of ice that rises to a height of 3,000 feet (910 m). It spills to the lagoon 12 miles (19 km) away from the jagged glacier hill to the edge of the water line. The lagoon developed only about 60 years ago (1948 is mentioned), when the entire area was less than 100 feet (30 m) of glacier, which was only 250 yards (230 m) from the Atlantic Ocean, and 2 miles (3.2 km) away from Vatnajökull . Vatnajökull was at the shore line of the ocean and dropped icebergs into the ocean. However, it started drifting in land rapidly every year leaving deep gorges en route, which got filled with melted water and large chunks of ice. These icebergs gather at the mouth of the lagoon’s shallow exit, melt down into smaller ice cubes and roll out into the sea. The lagoon is the lowest point in Iceland with land at 200 metres (660 ft) below sea level. In summer, they melt and roll down the channel into the sea. In winter the lagoon freezes and locks the icebergs in place. Ice water and soil make a unique ecological phenomenon. Jökulsárlón lake or lagoon, the Icelandic “glacier lake” is now reported to have doubled in size in the recent 15-year period. The huge blocks of ice that calve from the edge of Vatnajökull are about 30 metres (98 ft) high which fills the lagoon stocked with icebergs. Some icebergs appear naturally sculpted on account volcanic ashes from ancient eruptions that partly cover them.
With the rate at which Vatnajökull is retreating and the lagoon is getting formed, in the near future, it is anticipated that there is likely to be a deep fjord where Vatnajökull is now. This retreat is also posing a threat to the National Highway Route 1 of Iceland. Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland is 250 kilometres (160 mi) from the lake and the road between the capital and the lagoon winds through a dozen other glaciers, which are also under retreat. It is 75 kilometres (47 mi) to the west of Höfn town and 60 kilometres (37 mi) east of Skaftafell National Park. It is accessible by the ring road, Route 1, that goes across the lagoon, and where parking facilities have been provided for visitors. It is also known as the "Tourist Conveyor belt". While walking on the shore, isolated large blocks of icebergs can be seen on the black sand beach.
Protective measures for the bridge
A coffer dam was constructed near the Glacial River Bridge that spans across the Jökulsárlón Lagoon, in order to build a row of protective measures of stone boulders to prevent any erosion of the foundation of the pillars of the bridge. This coffer dam enabled the Icelandic Road Administration to create workable access for the power shovel digger to place the row of stone protective measures, which would also divert the icebergs from hitting the bridge pillars and thus avoid damage to the structure.
The icebergs that calve from the glacier edge move towards the river mouth and get entrenched at the bottom. While floating, only about one tenth mass of an iceberg is seen above the water surface. The movement of the icebergs fluctuates with the tide currents. However, they start floating as icebergs when their size is small enough to drift to the sea. These icebergs are seen in two shades, one type in milky white, while the other type is in bright blue colour, which is an interplay of light and ice crystals. Along the coastal road drive to the Jökulsárlón, apart from the mountains adding to the scenic surroundings, the villages seen are Selfoss, Vik and Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Among other attractions are Skógarfoss waterfall and Skaftafell, the latter one belonging to Vatnajökull National Park.
The lagoon is filled with fishes that drift in from the sea along with the tides. Seals gather in large numbers at the mouth of the lagoon to catch fish during the winter, which is a sight to watch. Large numbers of sea birds, particularly arctic terns, which nest nearby also gather to catch herring, trout, salmon and other fishes and krill. Breiðamerkursandur (the large sand deposits in the area) is the main habitat of the skua (Stercorariidae). During the summer season the skuas, which are big seagulls have their nests on the lake's shores. The skuas, fat and dark in colour with white wings, are said to be aggressive "pirate of the seas", which harass other birds (as big as gannets) to have a free meal. They also kill and eat smaller birds like the puffins. They are not afraid of human beings and also do not tolerate human beings close to its nests. It is reported that these birds migrate from their wintering grounds off the coasts of Spain and Africa. Seals are seen either swimming in the lagoon or lying on icebergs. Many times, the tides carry shoals of herring or capelan into the lagoon by the tide and the birds feast on them.
The Jökulsárlón Landowners Association is an organization that represents the owners of the land property Fell, which covers the Jökuklsárlón, also known as the Glacier Lagoon. This property is leased out for filming or any other commercial activity as required.
Einar Björn Einarsson is the operator of the boat trips on the Glacier Lagoon. The Landowners Association leases out the site at the lagoon front to this operator to ply the boats on the lagoon.
Boat tours on the Glacier lagoon
1985, after the premiere of the James Bond movie A View to a Kill marked the start of commercial boat tours on the Glacier lagoon. Guðbrandur Jóhannesson was the one who started doing the tours on Jökulsárlón or the Ice Lagoon as it is sometimes referred to as. Jóhannesson who nowadays owns and operates the company Vatnajökull travel, did the tours for the first two years. In the summer of 1987 about 5.000 passengers sailed on the two small vessels operated by the company. The next year an amphibian vehicle LARC-V was introduced to the fleet by the Glacier lagoon. In 1995 the number of passengers per year had multiplied and the company then operated 3 amphibian Vehicles. In 1999 the company was sold to Einar Björn Einarsson a local from the nearby town Höfn. In 2006 the fourth amphibian was introduced to the operation. The company Jökulsárlón ehf. now holds about 30 seasonal employees and for the past few years between 60 – 70 thousand passengers have gone on the boat tours every year. Since the first commercial boat tour took place on the Glacier lagoon about 900.000 passengers have taken the excursion offered by the company. The company Must Visit Iceland ehf. now offer Adventure Boat Cruise on the Ice Lagoon (Jökulsárlón).
In popular culture
The picturesque scene of the Jökulsárlón lagoon and the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier have been part of the James Bond films A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002), as well as Batman Begins (2005) and Beowulf and Grendel (2005). The popularity of the glaciers could be attributed to these blockbuster films, to Lara Croft's Tomb Raider and also to the popular commercials which have been centred on this location. Choreographing the car chase scene, which was once called one of the greatest movie car chases of all time, between a Jaguar and Aston Martin, a set that was created for the film at the location of the lagoon was a challenge to 'Action Unit' Director Vic Armstrong, of the Bond film Die Another Day.
The popularity of the lagoon has been further boosted by the TV coverage provided live from Jökulsárlón Lagoon on the American TV program Good Morning America (American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network) in southeast Iceland, on November 13, 2006. The "amazing landscape” covered on the TV programme not only included Jökulsárlón Lagoon filled with icebergs but also pictures of Antarctica and the polar ice caps, which were telecast live from Iceland. This live broadcast, which was made possible by a crew of 30 people, is reported to have been watched by 4 million people.
- "Jökulsárlón become the country's deepest lake". Visir. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- "Jökulsárlón". Virtually Virtual Iceland. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Stone, Andrew (2009). Scandinavian Europe. Lonely Planet. p. 268. ISBN 1-74104-928-8. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon". Iceland on the web. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Evans, Andrew (2008). Iceland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 389. ISBN 1-84162-215-X.
- "Jökulsárlón". Nordic Visitor Iceland. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Popular attraction". Landowners Association. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Woodard, Colin (2009). "Issues for Debate in Environmental Management: Selections from CQ Researcher by CQ Researcher". Curbing Climate Change (SAGE). pp. 25–26. ISBN 1-4129-7877-7. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Formation of the Glacier Lagoon". The Icebergs and jökulsá river formed the Jökulsárlón, Glacial Lagoon. Landowners Association. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "South Coast and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon". Nordic Visitor day Tour in Iceland. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Building of a dam on Jökulsarlon in June 2010". Jökulsarlon Landowners Association. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "A unique pearl of nature". Landowners Association. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Fjallsárlón". Citizendia. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "The Jokulsarlon Landowners Association". Landowners Association. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Crosse, Jesse (2006). The Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time. MotorBooks International. pp. 33–38. ISBN 0-7603-2410-7. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Good Morning America live in Iceland". Iceland Review Online. 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jökulsárlón|
- Photos 1 from islandsmyndir.is
- Photos from Icelandphotoblog.com
- Jökulsárlón panoramic virtual tour