Iceland Iceland Iceland Iceland


Transport, Infrastructure and Building Iceland

Vulnerabilities – Damages due to permafrost thawing

The thawing of the permafrost in the Arctic is causing damage to the infrastructure and buildings of the Arctic states. According to model projections, the costs of this damage will be $182 billion for all Arctic states combined by mid-century, under a moderate scenario of climate change. Under a high-end scenario of climate change the costs may rise to $276 billion by mid-century. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from $115 to $169 billion depending on the scenario. For Scandinavia and Iceland, the estimated costs are $36.4 billion (moderate scenario) to $53.9 billion (high-end), while the range for North America is $30.4 - $53.1 billion. These are the mean values for the estimates; the uncertainty range of these costs is tens of percent (1).

In these model projections mid-century is defined as the period 2055–2064, and the damage is compared to the reference period 2015–2024. The results show that under the moderate scenario of climate change 29% of roads, 23% of railroads, and 11% of buildings will be affected by permafrost degradation. Under the high-end scenario, these numbers are 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings.

Rapid retreat of glaciers increases fluvial erosion from currently glaciated areas, and leads to changes in the courses of glacier rivers, which may affect roads and other communication lines (2). 


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.

  1. Streletskiy et al. (2023)
  2. Icelandic Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources (2018)