|Area||8,100 km2 (3,100 sq mi)|
|Thickness||400 m (1,300 ft) average|
Vatnajökull [ˈvaʰdnaˌjœːkʏtl̥] (meaning Glacier of Rivers), also known as the Vatna Glacier, is the largest and most voluminous Icelandic glacier, and one of the largest in area in Europe. It is located in the south-east of the island, covering more than 8 percent of the country.
With an area of 13,600 km², Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume (3,100 km³) and the second largest (after Austfonna on Nordaustlandet, Norway) in area (not counting the still larger Severny Island ice cap of Novaya Zemlya, Russia, which may be regarded as located in the extreme northeast of Europe). On 7 June 2008, it became a part of the Vatnajökull National Park.
The average thickness of the ice is 400 m (1,300 ft), with a maximum thickness of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur (2,109.6 m (6,921 ft)), is located in the southern periphery of Vatnajökull, near Skaftafell National Park.
Under the ice cap, as under many of the glaciers of Iceland, there are several volcanoes. The volcanic lakes, Grímsvötn for example, were the sources of a large jökulhlaup (glacial lake outburst flood) in 1996. There was also a considerable but short-time eruption of the volcano under these lakes at the beginning of November 2004. In May 21, 2011 a volcanic eruption started í Grímsvötn in Vatnajökull National Park at around 7 p.m. The plume reached as high as 20 kilometres (12 mi). During the last ice age, numerous volcanic eruptions occurred under Vatnajökull, creating many subglacial eruptions.
According to Guinness World Records (GWR), Vatnajökull is supposedly the object of the world's longest sight line, 550 km (340 mi) from Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands. GWR claims that "owing to the light bending effects of atmospheric refraction, Vatnajökull (2,109.6 m), Iceland, can sometimes be seen from the Faroe Islands, 340 miles (550 km) away". This may be based on an alleged sighting by a British sailor in 1939. However, the record was shown impossible in mathematical and atmospheric detail by J.C. Ferranti.
In 1950, a Douglas DC-4 operated by the private airline Loftleiðir crash-landed on the Vatnajökull glacier and never flew again. Its abandoned fuselage is visible in the 2007 film Heima, a documentary about a tour performed by the band Sigur Rós.
The glacier was used as the setting for the opening sequence (set in Siberia) of the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill, in which Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) eliminated a host of armed villains before escaping in a submarine to Alaska. Several other films, including another in the Bond franchise, have been filmed on or using Jökulsárlón, the terminal lake of the Breiðamerkurjökull outlet from Vatnajökull.
Vatnajökull has around 30 outlet glaciers flowing from the ice cap. The Icelandic term for glacier is "jökull", and so is the term for outlet glacier. Given below is a list of outlet glaciers flowing from Vatnajökull, sorted by the four administrative territories of Vatnajökull National Park. This is not a complete list.
- "Vatnajokull National Park". Háskóli Íslands. hi.is. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
- Longlines page at viewfinderpanoaramas.org by J.C. de Ferranti
- "COLLISIONS AND BOMBS!". dc3history.org. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-05-16.
- "Iceland filming location revealed". winter-is-coming.net. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
- "General information map". Vatnajökull National Park. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vatnajökull.|
- News about Vatnajokull National park
- Search engine and map of Iceland
- Viewfinder Panoramas
- What it's like to explore the ice cap in winter.