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The Jökulsárlón proglacial lake lagoon full of icebergs at sunset with dramatic clouds reflecting in the lake




The Jökulsárlón proglacial lake lagoon full of icebergs at sunset with dramatic clouds reflecting in the lake


Twilight of the Gods

Iceland's glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón is filled with icebergs in midsummer. The late-evening sun strikingly illuminates Altocumulus and Altostratus cloud decks with a crystal clear reflection in the proglacial lake. The Vatnajökull ice cap in the far distance is the source of the Breiđamerkurjökull glacier lobe, which calves its icebergs into the Jökulsárlón tidal lake.
About 11% of Iceland is covered by ice caps and glaciers. This includes 14 ice caps, five of which are extensive ice domes and 256 alpine-type glaciers and cirque glaciers. Vatnajökull, which means water glacier, is located in the southeast of Iceland and is Iceland's largest ice cap. It reaches an altitude of 1725 m (5659 ft) and the glacier ice is up to 900 m (2950 ft) thick. The ice divide runs along the ridge of the volcanic foundation of the ice cap. Several jagged peaks protrude from the ice sheet as so-called nunataks. From there, the direction is decided in which the ice flows downhill due to gravity.
Depending on the topography of the underlying terrain, the 20 outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull appear either as steep icefalls or as gently sloping ice lobes. It takes 500 to 1000 years for the ice to reach the margins of the ice cap. The annual snowfall amounts to 3 to 15 m (10 to 50 ft) and the differently inclined terrain leads to ice drifts of up to one meter per day (3.3 ft). The glacier of Breiđamerkurjökull ends in the 200 m (656 ft) deep tidal ice lake of Jökulsárlón. Given these numbers, the icebergs floating in Jökulsárlón are up to 1000 years old. They contain a remarkable number of black ash layers from numerous volcanic eruptions that took place during this time span.
After three days of continuous rain, this impressive cloud cover formed over the glacier lagoon in the late evening. The likelihood was very small that it would last until sunset. Contrary to all expectation, however, it remained stationary and continually developed fascinating structures. During the sunset this culminated in a firework of colors and shapes with an incredible contrast to the blue icebergs.

July 2010
Canon 5D MkII, Canon EF-L 16-35mm, f/16, 1 sec, ISO 50, Lee grey neutral density filter, tripod

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