Solheimajokull: A Geography Case Study

The aim of this 18-minute video is to consider the recent changes that have taken place at Solheimajokull, one of Iceland’s best known and most visited glaciers.

Solheimajokull is one of the most monitored glaciers in the world, with records dating back to the 1930s. Since the mid-1990s, the glacier has retreated by up to 50m a year, creating a huge lagoon at its snout and revealing an amazing landscape featuring distinctive landforms such as lateral moraines, kettle holes and an extensive outwash plain. As with other glaciers in Iceland and across the world, scientists believe this retreat to be clear evidence of climate change and global warming. Through interviews with local experts (including glaciologist Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson), this film makes a critical assessment of the recent trends and examines the links to global warming, whilst clear diagrams, photos and video clips explain the formation of this unique landscape, focusing particularly on glacial processes and glacial landforms.

At the heart of the film lies the question: will Solheimajokull still be there in one hundred years’ time?

In this video, we cover:

  • The study of glacial processes, focusing on glacier mass balance, the processes of glacier movement and the processes of glacial erosion
    an examination of freeze-thaw weathering and its impacts on the landscape.
  • The study of a selection of glacial and fluvioglacial landforms including lateral moraines, till and the outwash plain
  • A critical examination of the impacts of global warming on the glacial mass balance and on the future of glaciers and ice caps in Iceland

This video is suitable for all ages and is particularly relevant to students aged between 14 and 18, studying glacial landscapes and the effects of climate change.

The changes seen at Solheimajokull also illustrate ‘Patterns in Environmental Quality and Sustainability’, a core theme in IB Geography.

Solheimajokull: A Geography Case Study received the Highly Commended Award at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Conference and the Silver Award at the Geographical Association Awards

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To make the most of this video we have also created some additional teaching resources to use in the classroom – click the right arrow to view

The three images above, show Solheimajokull in 1995, 2007 and 2015 respectively.
Images © Oddur Sigurðsson, Icelandic Meteorological Office

  Solheimajokull GIS

  Solheimajokull Retreat

  Solheimajokull Worksheet Questions

  Solheimajokul Worksheet Answers

  Solheimajokull Extension Activities Questions

  Solheimajokull Extension Activities Answers

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