Iceland Iceland Iceland Iceland

Previously in ClimateChangePost


Presented by Richard Klein (Stockholm Environment Institute) at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

By the 2020s, the main beneficiary of the warming climate appears to be Finland, where the number of good months is projected to rise by one month

Projected impacts indicate increased fish productivity at high latitudes and decreased productivity at low/mid latitudes

Potential grass yield in Northern Europe is projected to increase in 2050 compared with 1960–1990, mainly as a result of increased growing temperatures.


I recommend

National plans/strategies for Iceland

  • Iceland's Sixth National Communication on Climate Change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.
  • Iceland’s Climate Change Strategy. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important Icelandic topics

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topics, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

Weblogs in English and Icelandic

Weblogs in Icelandic

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EU funded Research Projects

Energy Iceland

Energy in numbers - Iceland

About one seventh of hydropower potential and 1% of geothermal potential is currently being exploited. The total energy supply is derived from 48% geothermal, 32% oil, 18% hydropower, 2% coal and a little gas. Ninety per cent of the oil is used in the transport and fishing sectors. All coal is used in two manufacturing plants. 100% of electricity and about 98% of space heating comes from hydro and geothermal energy (2). Over 70% of total energy production comes from hydropower and geothermal.

No other nation uses such a high proportion of renewable energy resources. The utilisation of such resources for domestic consumption and for exportation is positive from a climate change point of view, though it can sometimes conflict with nature conservation aims. The exportation of technology and knowledge in the field of renewable energy is likely the weightiest contribution that Iceland can make to the campaign against climate change. The government will foster research and innovation in fields related to climate change affairs and will promote the exportation of Icelandic expertise in fields related to renewable energy and climate-friendly technology (3).

Iceland’s future energy balance

Iceland is vulnerable to global warming merely because of its geographic location. Its landscape, full of glaciers and volcanoes, is one which will be greatly affected by melting ice and changing weather patterns. Strangely enough, Iceland’s economy stands to benefit from the earth’s rapid transformation (1).

Melting glaciers feed Iceland’s rivers which power the country’s hydroelectric industry. Innovations in energy from Iceland have been largely fuelled by climate change and have led Iceland to the forefront of new technology to harness renewable energy sources. Iceland has become the leader in new fuel technologies and geothermal energy (1).

Another characteristic of Iceland centres on the great potential to use vegetation and soil for sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. Such sequestration is consistent with Iceland’s centuries-old land reclamation endeavours (3).

Impacts on glaciers in the 21st century

Glaciers are a distinctive feature of Iceland, covering about 11% of the total land area. The largest glacier is Vatnajökull in southeast Iceland with an area of 8,200 km2 (3). Glaciers receive about 20% of the precipitation that falls on the country. They store the equivalent of 15–20 years of annual average precipitation over the whole country as ice. Substantial changes in the volume of glacier ice may, therefore, lead to large changes in the hydrology of glacial rivers, with important implications for the hydropower industry and other water users (4).

Climate changes are likely to have a substantial effect on glaciers and lead to major runoff changes in Iceland. Changes in glacier runoff are one of the most important consequences of future climate changes in Iceland (3). Many glaciers and ice caps are projected to essentially disappear over the next 100–200 years. Runoff from presently glaciated areas may increase by 25–50% in the period 30–100 years from now for typical glaciated watersheds in the Nordic countries. The expected runoff increase may have practical implications in connection with the use of water in various sectors of society. Changes in water divides and changes in river courses may also have important consequences (4).

Glacial runoff is particularly important for the hydropower industry because hydropower plants utilise runoff from highland areas, where glaciers tend to be located. The effect of climate warming on glacial runoff includes an initial increase in total glacial runoff and peak flows, and a considerable amplification in the diurnal runoff oscillation, followed by significantly reduced runoff totals and diurnal amplitudes as the glaciers retreat (4).

Modeling of the Langjökull and Hofsjökull ice caps and the southern part of the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland reveals that these glaciers may essentially disappear over the next 100–200 years. Runoff from these glaciers is projected to increase by about 30% with respect to present runoff by 2030. The peak runoff is expected to occur in the latter part of the 21st century (3).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Iceland.

  3. Ministry for the Environment of Iceland (2010)
  4. Jóhannesson et al. (2006)