okulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is one of Icelands most spectacular sights, located about 60 km east of Skaftafell National Park and almost 400 km from Reykjavik. Jokulsarlon borders south and east part Iceland, at the roots of Europe's largest glacier Vatnajokull. Breidamerkurjokull, an outlet glacier of the great glacier Vatnajokull, crumbles down the steep mountainside of the glacier and big icebergs break off into the lagoon where they float around before melting. This is a very popular sightseeing attraction, widely regarded as the most picturesque scenery in all of south Iceland.
At the time when the first settlers arrived in Iceland around 900 AD, the edge of the glacier tongue of Breidamerkurjokull, is thought to have been about 20 km further north than it is now. The climate began to cool around the year 1200, reaching a peak in the period 1600-1900, which is sometimes reffered as the "Little Ice Age". As a result of this colder climate, the glacier advanced until about 1890, reaching a point only about 1 km from the coast at Jokulsa river. The following warm period from 1920 to 1965 caused great changes in Breidamerkurjokull glacier tongue where it retreated rapidly, leaving a lagoon up to 200 m deep where the glacier snout had been, and several kilometres of glacial moraines were exposed on both sides of the lagoon. The lagoon started to form around 1934-’35 and has been getting bigger every year. The lagoon grew from 8 square km in 1975 to nearly 15 square km in 1998 and now the edge of the glacier tongue floats on the water. It calves into the lagoon and icebergs of different sizes can be seen aground and melting rather quickly. The lagoon is quite deep, around 200 m etres .
Prior to 1950 the 1½ km long course of the glacial river Jokulsa was uninterrupted by any lagoon but not its by far the shortest river in Iceland. The average flow of the river is 250-300 m³/sec. The river gets shorter every year, mainly because of the constant sea erosion, which eventually is going to destroy the bridge on the ring road. The result will be a deep bay, which is going to grow longer the further the glacier tongue retreats. The lagoon's surface has been lowered almost to sea level and sea water enters with the tides, increasing the water temperature. Salmon, capelin and herring enter the lagoon and the seals follow so it´s not uncommon to see seals in the glacier lagoon or on the black sanded ocean beach. Plenty of birds live by the glacier lagoon and the nearby Breiðamerkursandur is the main home to the great Skua. Eider ducks are also common on the lagoon.
From May to September it is possible to take boat trip between the icebergs to admire the natural ice sculptures and the blue green colour of the ice. The duration of the boattrip is approximately 40 minutes. On east bank of the lagoon there is a small restaurant which is open in the summer time.
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is a famous tourist attraction but has probably be seen by most through films like James Bond´s; Die Another Day or Lara Croft´s; Tomb Raider. It has also been a popular shooting location for commercials.