Glaciers are massive ice formations made from snow naturally accumulating over the years. In Iceland, glaciers cover an area of about 11,400 km², which makes up around 11.1 percent of its total area. Icecaps can also be found in Iceland covering the tops of the Icelandic volcanoes.
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland and the second largest in Europe. It covers about eight percent of Iceland’s area. At the end of 2011, Vatnajökull, which literally means ‘Glacier of Rivers’, was used as a shooting location for the American TV series, ‘Game of Thrones’. The average thickness of the Vatnajökull glacier is an estimated 400 meters, while the maximum is about 100 meters.
In June 2008, the Vatnajökull glacier was added to the Vatnajökull National Park, in addition to the surrounding rivers and volcanoes. It is the largest national park in Europe with an area of 12,000 km². Both of the glaciers and icecaps have attracted some companies that can benefit from them. These benefits vary from producing mineral water to promoting them as tourist spots.
Icelandic Glacial is a famous example of one of the companies that sell glacier mineral water from Iceland. This water is produced from the Ölfus Spring. The GT group is also selling parts of the glaciers themselves to decorate the luxury ice bars and hotels.
GT Travel, a part of the GT Group, organizes trips around Iceland, adding the glaciers to their top destinations with strict environmental policies to avoid polluting the surrounding environment. Melting glaciers are a sign of global warming, and environmental scientists claim that all of the Icelandic glaciers will disappear within 500 years if global warming continues at its current rate.
Snæfellsjökull is the smallest glacier in Iceland, which is beginning to melt quickly, and might to disappear within the next few decades, according to an interview with the glaciologist, Tómas Jóhannesson, with The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.
The best time to visit the Icelandic glaciers is in the summer because in the winter, there is a massive amount of snowfall, which makes it difficult to get around, especially if you are not used to such an extreme climate. While visiting, it is advisable to book with a local tour agent since all of the glaciers are on the outskirts of large cities that have limited transportation options for solo travelers, and the public buses only operate in the Greater Reykjavík area.