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Grímsvötn flood is smaller than expected

01.12.2021 - 13:26
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 Mynd: Einar Rafnsson - RUV
The jökulhlaup, or glacial flood, from Grímsvötn volcano, under the Vatnajökull glacier, southeast Iceland, is so far smaller than forecast. Water levels have risen slower than they did in the 2010 flood. The current flood is expected to peak sometime this weekend. The ice sheet at the volcano has sunk by some ten metres.

The earth sciences institute of the University of Iceland issued a flow forecast last night, which takes into account flow caused by the melting of the sagging ice, compared to the amount of water that has already passed into the river system, and making a forecast based on the difference between these data sets. 

According to the forecast, the flow in Gígjukvísl river will reach its peak late on Sunday, or on Monday morning, when it will reach 4,000 cubic metres per second. 

In an online statement, the earth sciences institute says that there was a 6-12-hour delay between peak flow at Grímsvötn and in Gígjukvísl and that peak flow is therefore expected this Sunday night or Monday morning. The peak in 2010 was some hundreds of cubic metres per second more in the river than in the glacial reservoirs, which means the predicted peak flow rate in Gígjukvísl is around 4,000 cubic metres per second now. 

According to Met Office and University of Iceland measurements, the ice has sunk by around ten metres so far and 0.175 cubic kilometres of water has already flowed out from Grímsvötn since the flood even began—which is around 175 billion litres. The flow is currently around 800 cubic metres per second and is expected to increase steadily until the peak late this weekend. 

You can follow regularly-updated scientific data from Grímsvötn, here

The Route 1 highway in southeast Iceland remains open as usual and there are no signs of volcanic activity at this time. 

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