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Jokulsarlon: The Lake of Glaciers

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Jokulsarlon is a large glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park, and one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. Appearing first only in 1934-1935, the lake evolved after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates increasing fourfold since the 1970s. Today, it stands 1.5 kilometers away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2. It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 meters depth as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. When the first settlers arrived in Iceland around 900 AD, the edge of the glacier tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier was about 20 kilometres 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 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 inland rapidly with the continuing process of calving and falling of icebergs of varying size, and thus creating a lagoon in its wake. As the icebergs break away from the tongue of the glacier, they drift slowly to the mouth of the lagoon and eventually join the ocean.
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The lagoon is the lowest point in Iceland with land at 200 metres 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. The huge blocks of ice that calve from the edge of Vatnajökull are about 30 metres high and keep the lagoon stocked with icebergs. Some icebergs appear naturally sculpted on account volcanic ashes from ancient eruptions that partly cover them.
Jokuslarlon glacier lagoon is not far from the Icelandic Ring Road, and buses traveling between Hofn and Reykjavik usually stop near the lagoon where parking facilities have been provided for visitors.
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Source consulted: Amusing Planet

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