aerial photo: valley Brandi with glaciers
Brandi is a small valley stretching west from valley Djúpidalur, south of Akureyri.

Geographic Names of Iceland's glaciers: Historic and Modern

U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper


A long-term collaboration between Oddur Sigurðsson and Richard S. Williams Jr. has led to the authorship of three books on the glaciers of Iceland. Much effort has been devoted to documenting historical glacier research and related nomenclature and to physical descriptions of Icelandic glaciers by Icelanders and other scientists from as far back as the Saga Age to recent times.

The second book, Geographic Names of Iceland's Glaciers: Historic and Modern, published in 2008, provides information about all named glaciers in Iceland. Descriptions, with geographic coordinates and bibliographic citations to all glacier place-names on published maps, books, and scientific articles are included. Maps, oblique aerial photographs, ground photographs, and satellite images document each of 269 glaciers.

Climatic changes and resulting glacier fluctuations alter landscapes. In the past, such changes were noted by local residents who often documented them in historic annals; eventually, glacier variations were recorded on maps and scientific reports.

In Iceland, 10 glacier place-names are to be found in Icelandic sagas, and one of Iceland's ice caps, Snæfellsjökull, appeared on maps of Iceland published in the 16th century. In the late 17th century, the first description of eight of Iceland's glaciers was written. Therefore, Iceland distinguishes itself in having a more than 300-year history of observations by Icelanders on its glaciers.

The first book, Icelandic Ice Mountains, was published by the Icelandic Literary Society in 2004 in cooperation with the Icelandic Glaciological Society and the International Glaciological Society. It is built on a treatise by Sveinn Pálsson in 1795 and his manuscript from 1815.

The third book, Glaciers of Iceland, is yet to be published but will be part of a U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper (nr. 1386) and includes a map of the glaciers of Iceland.

Other related web sites

This website is built with Eplica CMS