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The Big Picture: Examining the Breidamerkurjokull glacier

Hlynur Steinsson, a ranger with Vatnajokull state park and university graduate student, uses a magnifying glass to examine a tiny plant growing on mostly barren and gravel-covered land left behind by the receding Breidamerkurjokull glacier near Hof, Iceland.

Hlynur Steinsson uses a magnifying glass to examine a tiny plant growing on mostly barren and gravel-covered land left behind by the receding Breidamerkurjokull glacier near Hof, Iceland. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Forests once covered the area but were obliterated by the advancing glacier hundreds of years ago.

Breidamerkurjokull, among the biggest of the dozens of glaciers that descend from Vatnajokull ice cap, is melting, losing an average of 100 to 300 meters in length annually.

Since the 1990s, 90 percent of Iceland’s glaciers have been retreating and projections for the future show a continued and strong reduction in size of its three ice caps.

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