According to the models that have been prepared on glacier mass balance, run-off from Iceland's glaciers will increase by 30% from now to 2030; moreover, after 200 years, these glaciers will have nearly disappeared.
"It is important to start thinking right away about what these changes in flow will mean for present hydroelectric structures and how it will be possible to utilise this knowledge in designing new structures and modifying old ones. It is important to monitor the weather, glaciers and bodies of water in order to observe hydrological and meteorological trends and to note how quickly such developments are occurring," added Friðrik Sophusson.
His presentation also stated that measurements of Langjökull and Vatnajökull (jökull, the last part of these compound nouns, means glacier) in the glacier year of 2003-4 showed a negative mass balance of 1.49 m, averaged over all of Langjökull, and of 0.92 m averaged over Vatnajökull. The mass balance of Langjökull had proved negative by a total of 10.62 m over the last six years, while the mass balance of Vatnajökull had turned out negative by a total of 6.75 m.
Looking farther into the future, when the glaciers had finished melting, one had to keep in mind that precipitation would continue falling on the areas now covered by the ice-caps, even after they had disappeared. Thus the water discharge from places previously under glacier might be expected to remain similar 200 years from now to what is was before the ice began to recede. In consideration of increased precipitation, the water flow might even rise somewhat, and the much more even distribution of flow throughout the year would result in better utilisation of the water for generating electricity, as less water would be wasted.
Friðrik Sophusson also described the ongoing Iceland Deep Drilling Project, conducted by Landsvirkjun in a consortium with Reykjavík Energy and Suðurnes Regional Heating for over three years now, with the National Energy Authority recently joining in this cooperation. The idea behind deep drilling is, among other things, to investigate the actual extent of Iceland's energy resources. As indicated through a preliminary study which was sponsored by the above parties and which considered deep drilling from 2001 to 2003, it appears probable that the country's utilisable high-temperature resource base may be vastly underestimated.
"Now it is thought certain that two foreign science funds will contribute monetarily to the amount of around 260 million ISK, or 4.2 million USD, to the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, and it is important that the Icelandic state join in with these foreign entities and two to fourteen energy companies, so as to get the Deep Drilling Project moving in the near future," commented Friðrik Sophusson.