It was fitting to have the clouds linger over the landscape as we left Skogafoss and headed further down the south coast of Iceland to visit the Sólheimajökull glacier. Before you are able to get a good view of the glacier and its beauty, you are greeted with a small post indicating how much the glacier has melted in a short period of time. The glacier retreats the size of an olympic swimming pool each year. It is a sobering thought to say the least as one contemplates our intrusion on the land and how much we have altered the fate of all life on Earth.
I couldn’t help but think about how much our collective feet have pressed against time as I walked the landscape of black lava stone to get a glimpse of what remains of Sólheimajökull. I was yet another intruder from afar, here to selfishly take in the wild beauty of a land that is poignantly feeling the effects of climate change.
My attempts to capture a bit of the wild beauty of Sólheimajökull as a testament of all that could be lost without a concerted global effort to change our selfish ways, served to remind me of my own actions. Like many countries, Iceland is making concerted efforts to reduce and sequester carbon emissions. Although we did not have the option of renting an electric car when we reserved our very-efficient econobox, we were impressed with the number of electric vehicles we saw on the road, as well as how accessible it is to walk and bike in the more densely populated areas. And, although Iceland does not, by nature, have an abundance of trees, more and more are being planted to the government and individuals.
When we visit these fragile landscapes we can take in their beauty, but also their vulnerability. We can be reminded of our own impact, our collective impact, and contemplate the ways we can move towards further change to preserve and protect our planet and its landscape.
I couldn’t help but wonder about our future and what sort of landscape the next generations of children will be greeted with as I approached the glacier cap and began to take in its still mighty expanse and beauty.
The glacier is covered with volcanic dust, and sits atop an active volcano. The black dust against the blue ice enhances the melancholic feel of the place. As with all sites that welcome tourists in Iceland, one is advised to take caution and obey the signs. Glacier are a place to see changes in real-time, and as we approached the base of the Sólheimajökull we could see its drips of melting ice.
The feeling of reverence and guilt pervades your thoughts as you watch Sólheimajökull’s ice give way to water filling its lagoon.
Please click through the short slide show of additional photos to get some more glimpses of Sólheimajökull’s fragile beauty.