Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is a big outlet glacier from the south side of Vatnajökull glacier that crawls down to the Breiðamerkursandur black sand area between Skaftafell in the west and Höfn in Hornafjörður town in the east. The glacier covers around 17 square kilometres and it has curved a big deep valley that goes down to around 300 metres below sea level. The glacier has retreated a lot for the past 50 years. but before the glacier was increasing and it destroyed some of the farms there. The last Farm that the glacier did go over was in the year 1702 the farmer's name was Breiðamörk and the glaciers has it name from the farm and is called Breiðamerkurjökull.
In the beginning of the last century the front of the glacier was estimated to be around 300 meters away from the coastline. Today big hills can be seen (terminal moraine) where the glacier used to be at that time, just north of the main road. When it started to get warmer around the year 1920 the glaciers started to melt and around the year 1933 a small lagoon started to form in front of the glacier, since that time it has been growing, especially very fast in the last 20 years.
In 1998 the size of the glacier lagoon was estimated to be around 8 square kilometers, in 2004 it was estimated to be around 15 square kilometers and it has grown quite a lot since then. Now the front of the glacier is around 6 kilometers away from the coastline.
There is a lot of glacier ice breaking off from the glacier margin and it falls directly into the glacier lagoon, then it floats out into the lagoon where it melts or it floats out to the sea. It is possible to see some small icebergs down by the coastline called diamonds beach because of the blue glittering glacier ice.
Many things have changed in the surroundings of the glacier since it started to retreat for about 100 years ago. Now there is a new land that was covered with ice before. Also the rivers have been changing in front of the glacier and some river have got more water than before but others have dried out.
Ice Cave Tours and the Glacier Lagoon
It is possible to find some big ice caves in Breiðarmerkurjökull Glacier. They can be accessible during winter time, it depends though how the weather conditions are in the area, whether it's possible to go inside or not. If it's raining a lot then the ice caves are filled with water, but if it's cold then there is less melting water coming out from underneath the glacier that makes it possible to go inside.
The only way to go inside these ice caves is to join a guided tour. The best time for ice caving would be from October to the beginning of March when it's coldest. It is also possible to go on a boat tours on the Glacier Lagoon from early spring until late in the fall it's the perfect way to see the icebergs and the amazing nature in or around the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón.