What Worries Iceland? A World Without Ice. It Is Preparing.

HÖFN, Iceland — From the offices of the fishing operation founded by his family two generations ago, Adalsteinn Ingólfsson has watched the massive Vatnajökull glacier shrink year after year. Warmer temperatures have already winnowed the types of fish he can catch. But the wilting ice mass, Iceland’s largest, is a strange new challenge to business.

“The glacier is melting so much that the land is rising from the sea,” said Mr. Ingólfsson, the chief executive of Skinney-Thinganes, one of Iceland’s biggest fishing companies. “It’s harder to get our biggest trawlers in and out of the harbor. And if something goes wrong with the weather, the port is closed off completely.”

A warmer climate isn’t just affecting Höfn, where the waning weight of Vatnajökull on the earth’s crust is draining fjords and shifting underground sediment, twisting the town’s sewer pipes. As temperatures rise across the Arctic nearly faster than any place on the planet, all of Iceland is grappling with the prospect of a future with no ice.

“Climate change is no longer something to be joked about in Iceland or anywhere,” Gudni Jóhannesson, Iceland’s president, said in an interview, adding that most Icelanders believe human activity plays a role. “We realize the harmful effects of global warming,” he said. “We are taking responsibility to seek practical solutions. But we can do better.”

That alarms him, he said, because glaciers keep volcanoes cool. Scientists predict more eruptions in the coming century as the glaciers melt. Mr. Eggertsson is working to make the farm carbon neutral to prevent more warming, by transforming it from a mainly dairy operation to an 160-acre estate with barley and rapeseed fields — crops that couldn’t grow in the cold climate 50 years ago.

He is converting the rapeseed to biofuel. And Mr. Eggertsson, who plans to ramp up his 364,000-euro investment in the crop business in coming years, is hoping that Iceland’s farmers will one day grow enough barley to avoid importing it on polluting ships and planes.

“Sometimes what I’m doing feels like a drop in the ocean,” Mr. Eggertsson said, pulling handfuls of barley from the soil. “But humans are contributing to warming. I have no choice but to act.”

A native of the area, he recalled the lake being a fraction of its current size when he was a teenager. When he returned in 2012, the Vatnajökull outlet here had melted so much that the lagoon had grown a mile wide, and thundering rivers nearby had shifted course.

Many of the 200 tourists who visit daily want to see Vatnajökull before it disappears, Mr. Arnarson said.

“People are stunned by the glacier’s beauty and feel like me,” he said, gazing at the 130-foot high wall of blue ice soaring from the water.

“It’s nice to see a piece of it break off,” he said. “But it’s really sad.”

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