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Information on national adaptation actions reported under the Governance Regulation

Reporting updated until: 2023-03-15

Item Status Links
Climate Law (including adaptation)
  • actual adaptation policy (adopted)
National Adaptation Strategy (NAS)
  • actual adaptation policy (adopted)
  • actual adaptation policy (adopted)
National Adaptation Plan (NAP)
  • being developed
  • Iceland's National Adaptation Plan
Other (specify below)
  • actual adaptation policy (adopted)
Meteorological observations
Climate projections and services
Adaptation portals and platforms
Monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) indicators and methodologies
Key reports and publications
National communication to the UNFCCC
Governance regulation adaptation reporting
Iceland is a large island located at the confluence of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans with a land area of some 103 thousand square kilometres, a coastline of 4,970 kilometres and a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone extending over 758 thousand square kilometres in the surrounding waters. Iceland is prone to a multitude of hazards including extreme storms, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and avalanches.

Climate change is contributing to shifts in the magnitude and scale of hazards and the emergence of risks in areas where they were previously unknown.

Iceland enjoys a warmer climate than its northerly location would indicate because a part of the Gulf Stream flows around the southern and western coasts of the country. In Reykjavík, the average temperature is nearly 11°C in July and just below zero in January.

Glaciers are a distinctive feature of Iceland, covering about 10% of the total land area. The largest glacier, also the largest in Europe, is Vatnajökull in Southeast Iceland with an area of 8,300 km2. Glacial erosion has played an important part in giving the valleys their present shape, and in some areas, the landscape possesses alpine characteristics. Regular monitoring has shown that all glaciers in Iceland are presently receding, they are smelting faster which has resulted in significant changes in the areas closest to the glaciers.

Rivers and lakes are numerous in Iceland, covering about 6% of the total land area. Freshwater supplies are abundant, but the rivers flowing from the highlands to the sea also provide the major potential for hydropower development. Geothermal energy is another domestic source of energy.

Iceland has access to rich marine resources in the country’s 758,000-km2 exclusive economic zone. The abundance of marine plankton and animals results from the influence of the Gulf Stream and the mixing of the warmer waters of the Atlantic with cold Arctic waters. Approximately 270 fish species have been found within the Icelandic 200-mile exclusive economic zone; about 150 of these are known to spawn in the area.

Iceland is situated just south of the Arctic Circle. The mean temperature is considerably higher than might be expected at this latitude. Relatively mild winters and cool summers characterize Iceland’s oceanic climate. The average monthly temperature varies from -3 to +3 °C in January and from +8 to +15°C in July. Storms and rain are frequent, with annual precipitation ranging from 400 to 4000 mm on average annually, depending on location. The mild climate stems from the Gulf Stream and attendant warm ocean currents from the Gulf of Mexico. The weather is also affected by polar currents from East Greenland that travel southeast toward the coastline of the northern and eastern parts of Iceland.

The temperature in Iceland exhibits large inter-decadal variations. The longest continuous temperature record comes from Stykkishólmur on the west coast of Iceland. Statistical treatment of data from this station and of non-continuous measurements at other locations in Iceland allows this record to be extended back to 1798. This record shows that during the 19th century, temperatures were cooler than in the 20th century and that the magnitude of inter-annual variations in temperature was larger. In the 1920s, there was a period of rapid warming, as also observed in global averages, but in Iceland, the temperature change was greater and more abrupt. From the 1950s, temperatures in Iceland had a downward trend with a minimum reached during the years of the Great Salinity Anomaly in the late 1960s, when sea ice was prevalent during late winter along the north coast. Conditions were rather cool in the 1970s with 1979 being the coldest year of the 20th century in Iceland. Since the 1980s, Iceland has experienced considerable warming, and in the first decade of the 21st century, temperatures reached values comparable to those observed in the 1930s. The warmest year in the series was 2016. While there are pronounced inter-decadal temperature swings in Iceland, the long-term warming rate is similar to the global average, suggesting that the rapid warming in the period 1979 to 2021 is a combination of local variability and large-scale background warming. This remains true both for the annual average and individual seasons. Recently, an estimate for precipitation in all of Iceland during the last decades of the 20th century has been derived using high-resolution atmospheric reanalysis. The results show significant decadal variations in precipitation and a tendency for higher amounts of precipitation during warmer decades. The long-term station records indicate that precipitation tends to increase by 4% to 8% for each degree of warming. Furthermore, several new studies suggest an increase in precipitation intensity during the warming of recent decades.
The population of Iceland was 368.792 on 1 January 2021. With only 3 inhabitants per square kilometre, Iceland is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. In 2000–2015, annual average population growth was 1.1% and the natural increase (births less deaths) 0.8%. Around 63% of the population over 230 thousand) live in the capital city of Reykjavík and its surrounding municipalities. In 1990 this same ratio was 57%, demonstrating higher population growth in the capital area than in smaller communities and rural areas. The largest town outside the capital area is Akureyri, located in North Iceland, with a population of just over 19 thousand. Most of the remaining inhabitants live in small towns along the coast. As in other advanced countries, the population of Iceland is ageing, but at a relatively slower pace than in most OECD countries. In 2021, despite high life expectancy, the ratio of the total population aged over 65 to the population of working age was 14,7% .

TOURISM

Tourism has increased rapidly in Iceland in recent years.

In 2021 the total number of foreign overnight visitors to Iceland was just under 700 thousand as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic decreased somewhat. This was a 44% increase from 2020, when foreign visitors numbered just under half million. In 2019 the total number of foreign visitors was around 2 million.5

Around 688,000 tourists came on flights through Keflavík International Airport in 2021, or 98.5% of the total number of visitors. Around 10,000 came with the ferry Norræna through Seyðisfjörður, or around 1.5% of the total. Around 100 came on flights through Reykjavík Airport or Akureyri Airport. It must be assumed that there are variations in counts at Keflavik International Airport, as they cover all departures, including foreign national´s resident in Iceland.

In 2020, roughly 12,600 persons were employed in tourism in Iceland. This was a decrease by nearly half compared with 2019 which is the lowest recorded employment figure in tourism since 2013. The number of persons employed in tourism increased by roughly 109% during the period 2012-2018, or by about 13% per year, on average.

In 2020, roughly 5,5% of total working hours are estimated to have been directly related to the production of goods and services for tourism final consumption while tourism direct contribution to GDP is estimated at 3,9%. For comparison, these estimates were, on average, roughly 10.4% for the period 2018-2019.6
The economy relies inter alia on fisheries and tourism and therefore potential impacts on these industries because of climate change are of high importance.

FISHERIES:

Iceland is the 17th largest fishing nation in the world, according to the FAO SOFIA 2022 report. Nearly all catch from Iceland gets exported. The fishing and fish processing sector are still one of the main economic pillars and the backbone of export activities in Iceland although its relative importance has somewhat diminished as other sectors such as tourism have been growing rapidly in recent years.

Throughout most of the 20th century, the fishing and fish processing sector was of key importance to the Icelandic economy and to a considerable extent, economic growth was generated by this sector. In 2022, the total catch of Icelandic fishing vessels was 1.417 thousand tons which is 259 thousand tons more than in 2021. In 2021 the marine products’ exports contributed to nearly 24% of the export value for goods and services and have increased over the course of 2022, mainly owing to the increase in the quota for capelin.

A comprehensive fisheries management system based on individual transferable quotas has been developed. Total allowable catches (TACs) are issued with the aim of promoting conservation and efficient utilization of marine resources. All commercially important species are regulated within the system. In addition to the fisheries management system, there are several other explicit and direct measures to rationalize investments in the fishing sector, to support its aims and reinforce conservation and socio-economic sustainability.

Between the years 2020 and 2021, export value increased by 7%, excluding aquaculture, and amounted to 296 billion ISK (FOB) up from 275 billion ISK (FOB). The exports of frozen products generated nearly half of the export value, of which the iced and frozen cod were of greatest value, 56,8 billion ISK and 46,8 billion ISK respectively.

In 2021 around 15% of the products’ export value was exported to the United Kingdom (44,8 billion ISK) followed by France 42,1 billion, United States (27,8 billion ISK) and Spain (21,6 billion ISK) as the largest markets. Between 2021 and 2020 the exports to the United Kingdom have been declining by 14.800 tons, while at the same time exports to France have increased by 9.000 tons for the same period.

Of the total exports of 644 thousand tons in 2021 about 76,1% were exported to Europe, 10,6% to Asia and 7,5% to North America. In terms, total exports value of 296,2 billion ISK about 73,1% of the export revenues were from the European market and 12,4% of the export revenues from North America.

EXPORTS:

In Iceland, the total value of exports of goods in 2021 was ISK 136.2 billion, 21.8% higher than in 2020. Exports of aluminum and aluminum products had the largest share in exported manufacturing products or 37.3% of total exports. Marine products contributed to 38.8% of the total exports and their value was 7.4% higher than in 2020. Fresh fish and frozen fish fillets had the largest share in marine products. Fresh fish was 11.3% of total exports and frozen fish fillets were 9.6% of total exports. The largest trading countries in the export of goods were the Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom but 68.8% of all exports went to EEA countries.

Exports of services has increased as the economy has become increasingly service oriented. Tourism has soared over the past few years and has been one of the main drivers of export growth. The total value of exports of services for 2021 was 95.6 billion ISK higher than in 2020, or 25%. The increase in exports of services is mainly due to increase in exports of travel and transportation as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic decreased somewhat in 2021. The value of exported travel was estimated 165.4 billion ISK in 2021 and increased by 91% compared with 2020. The value of exported transportation was estimated 120.4 billion ISK in 2021 and increased by 31% compared with 2020.

In Iceland, the total value of imports of goods in 2021 was ISK 222.8 billion, 28.9% higher than in 2020. The increase was mainly in transport equipment and capital goods. The largest import categories were industrial supplies (28.8%) and capital goods (22.2%). The total value of imports of services for 2021 was 63.5 billion ISK higher, or 21%, than in 2020. The value of imports of travel was 96.3 billion ISK in 2021 and increased by 36% compared with 2020. The value of imports of transportation was 75.1 billion ISK in 2021 and increased by 23% compared with the year before.

ENERGY

The energy profile is unusual as 85% of primary energy use in 2019 came from renewable resources, hydro and geothermal. This share was even higher in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19 effects on lower transport fuel consumption. The remaining 15% came from imported fossil fuels, which are mainly used in transportation, road and aviation, and the fishing industry. The majority of electricity consumption in Iceland has historically been in the energy intensive industry. In 2021 these industries consumed 79%, or 14,994 GWh, of the electricity consumed.

INDUSTRY

The production structure of Iceland’s manufacturing sector is unique among industrialised countries in many respects. First, the manufacturing sector is dominated by two sub-sectors, food processing and aluminium production, which together account for roughly ¾ of total manufacturing. Second, production of machinery and other investment goods is relatively limited. Food production is directed partly at the domestic market, but a larger share, or 62% (in 2015), focuses on seafood production for export. Other less important sub-sectors are machinery equipment production (12%), building materials production (3%), and pharmaceuticals/chemical products (3%).

TRANSPORT

The domestic transportation network consists of roads and air transportation. Public transportation is mainly in the capital area and few of the bigger towns. Public transportation outside the main urban areas is primitive and has been difficult to operate, due to thin population and widespread private car ownership. In 2016, Iceland had 717 registered vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, in 2021 this number was up to 750 registered vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, a total of 329.000 vehicles. National roads totaled 12,900 km in 2017, of which 4,920 km are classified as major roads.

AVIATION AND SHIPPING

Aviation plays a key role in Iceland. The country’s geographical location makes undisturbed international air transportation imperative. Domestic aviation is also important because of long travel distances within the country combined with a small population. An investment in a railway system is therefore not a viable option.

Iceland has numerous harbours large enough to handle international ship traffic and which are free of ice throughout the year. The two main shipping lines operate regular liner services to the major ports of Europe and the US.

AGRICULTURE

Approximately 6% of the total land area of Iceland is suitable for agriculture. A higher percentage is usable for grazing livestock but 25% of the country lies beneath 200 m above sea level. Production of meat and dairy products is mainly for domestic consumption. The principal crops have been hay, potatoes and other root vegetables. Cultivation of other crops, such as barley and oats, has increased significantly, especially for fodder, but is still heavily dependent on favourable summers. There is also a lot more variety in horticultural crops. Vegetables and flowers are mainly cultivated in greenhouses.
Most of the climate-related research in Iceland is focused on climate processes and climate system studies and impacts of climate change. Other efforts involve modelling and prediction, and large ongoing projects deal with mitigation measures, but there has been less research on socio-economic aspects.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) is a governmental institute responsible for producing regular and specific weather forecasts. It conducts monitoring and scientific studies of geohazards and hazard zoning in Iceland. It is involved with several kinds of research within the fields of meteorology, hydrology and geosciences and has a leading role in climate change studies in Iceland both in research and in its role as an advising body to the government. It conducts glaciological measurements and modelling with a special focus on glacio-hydrology.

Although IMO research and evaluation of climate change is mainly centred on the climate of Iceland, the IMO has also been active in many inter-national climate research projects. Studies of the spatial characteristics and long-term changes in timeseries of temperature, precipitation, sea level pressure, river runoff and glacier changes have been conducted by IMO staff and published in international peer-reviewed journals.

Icelandic scientists have for many years contributed to paleoclimatological work with their participation in many ice and sediment core projects. Much of this work has taken place within the University of Iceland. Some examples of research topics within that field and in related fields include:
• A review of changes in the extent of Icelandic glaciers for the last 100–200 years.
• A review of the mass of Icelandic glaciers for the last 100–200 years and an estimate of their contribution to higher sea levels.
• Analysis of seafloor sediment cores from the coastal shelf north of Iceland to reconstruct changes in sedimentation, biota and ocean currents.
• Analysis of Tertiary and Quaternary oceanic paleo-fauna in order to chart changes in the system of ocean currents in that period.
• Reconstruction of climate change around the North Atlantic in the last 13,000 years by analysis of sedimentation (carbon content, pollen etc.) in lakes and fjords.

The institutions most important for the observation of climate change are the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) and the Marine and freshwater Research Institute (MRI). Other institutions monitor changes in natural systems that are affected by climate change, notably the Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH), which monitors the state of flora and fauna in Iceland and the Science Institute of the University of Iceland which monitors changes in glaciers and land movements. Furthermore, the National Land Survey of Iceland (NLSI) directs measurement campaigns for mapping vertical and horizontal land motion in Iceland.

The IMO has taken part in research projects where downscaling is used to generate projections of future climate change. In these studies, a numerical weather forecast model, or a regional climate model is used to refine for a limited area the projected climate changes from a global climate model. Results from such studies have been used to drive models of glacier retreat, changes in river runoff. The results of this work have been published in reports and peer reviewed articles.

The IMO has also led a series of Nordic-Baltic climate impact projects focusing on three main renewable energy resources; hydropower, biofuels and wind power. These projects were funded by Nordic Energy Research. In these projects the objective was to make comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on Nordic renewable energy resources including hydropower, wind power, biofuels and solar energy. This included assessment of power production and its sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change on both temporal and spatial scales; assessment of the impacts of extremes including floods, droughts, storms, seasonal pattern and variability. The CE project finished with the release of the book “Impacts of Climate Change on Renewable Energy Resources – Their role in the Nordic Energy System” which was published by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2007. The ensuing CES project had the goal of looking at climate impacts closer in time and assessing the development of the Nordic electricity system for the next 20–30 years. The project started in 2007 and finished in 2011 with the release of the book “Climate Change and Energy Systems – Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the Nordic and Baltic countries”.

Based on the results of climate models, the currently observed warming is expected to continue. The warming rates differ between emission scenarios and between models. An analysis of the CMIP6 SPSS scenarios for many models showed that over the 21st century, the warming is likely to be 1–4 °C on average and increase in precipitation to be 2–5%. The uncertainty range is quite large, for temperature the span between the 5th and 95th percentile ranges was around 4 °C but for precipitation 20–25%.

The climate of Europe and the northern North Atlantic is much milder than at comparable latitudes in Asia and North America. This is due to heat transport from the south with air and water masses. A key process in this respect is the so-called Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) in the North Atlantic. This circulation is due to sinking of ocean water, because of cooling of surface waters and ice formation at high latitudes. After sinking, this water is called deep water and it subsequently flows at depth to southern latitudes. In the northern North Atlantic, huge amounts of deep water are formed, e.g., in the Arctic Ocean, the Greenland Sea and the Labrador Sea. The deep water that is formed north of the Greenland–Scotland Ridge flows over the ridge on both sides of Iceland, as well as through the Faroe–Shetland Channel.

Many numerical models predict that the production of deep water will be reduced because of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This happens when more fresh water is introduced to the Nordic Seas because of melting of glaciers, thawing of permafrost and increased precipitation that makes the surface layers fresher and therefore reduce the intensity of vertical convection. This in turn leads to reduced deep-water flow over the Greenland–Scotland Ridge and a compensating reduction of flow of warm surface waters into the Nordic Seas, thus inducing a lowering of the temperature in the area. Ice-core data from the Greenland Ice Sheet indicate that this can happen rather quickly or within decades. Research projects measuring changes in the fluxes over the Greenland-Scotland Ridge have succeeded in deriving a time series of the northward flux of Atlantic water and the southward flux of deep water as well as the associated heat fluxes. The time series now available have revealed that the flow of deep water across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge has been quite stable. The observations have shown that after the mid-1990s the flux of Atlantic water and the associated heat flux across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge increased. The increase has been attributed to both increased flow and increased temperature of the inflowing Atlantic water. In the sixth assessment report of IPCC (2021) it was concluded that there is medium confidence that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) will not experience an abrupt collapse before 2100, if it were to occur, it would very likely cause abrupt shifts in regional weather patterns and water cycle. While there is low confidence in 20th century AMOC change, it is very likely that AMOC will decline over the 21st century. The possible slowdown of the AMOC may reduce the rate of temperature rise near Iceland but is not likely to lead to lowering of the temperature.
The IMO is responsible for atmospheric climate monitoring and observation. The IMO monitors and archives data from close to 200 stations. These stations are either manual (synoptic, climatological and precipitation stations) or automatic. The number of synoptic stations in operation (about 40) was relatively constant from 1960 to 2000 but with increasing numbers of automatic stations the synoptic network has been scaled down to 14 stations. The observations are distributed internationally on the WMO GTS (Global Telecommunication System). The manual precipitation network has been steadily expanding and now consists of about 70 stations measuring precipitation daily, including the synoptic stations. The majority of the precipitation stations report daily to the IMO database. The automation of measurements started in Iceland in 1987, and the number of automatic stations has been rapidly growing since then. The IMO now operates about 160 stations and about 25 in addition to this in cooperation with the National Power Company and the Maritime department of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. A repository of data from the about 100 stations operated by the Public Roads Administration is also located at the IMO. Most automatic stations observe wind and temperature every 10 minutes, a few once per hour, and most transmit data to the central database every hour. Many stations also include humidity, pressure and precipitation observations, and a few observe additional parameters (shortwave radiation and ground temperatures) or observe at more than one level.

The IMO participates in the Global Atmospheric Observing Systems (GAOS). The IMO participated in the MATCH ozone-sounding program during the winter months from 1990 to 2012, and the data was reported to the WOUDC (World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre), Canada.

The three GAW (Global Atmosphere Watch) stations are: the BAPM at Írafoss, Stórhöfði and Reykjavík. In Írafoss and Stórhöfði monitoring of the tropospheric ozone, carbon dioxide, methane and isotopes of oxygen and carbon are performed in cooperation with NOAA. Heavy metals and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in air and precipitation (currently POPs precipitation monitoring is only performed in Írafoss) are monitored and reported to AMAP and OSPAR, although the Stórhöfði station experienced a malfunction in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 and ozone monitoring from there has suffered since. The data is reported to AMAP, EMAP og OSPAR-CAMP í NILU in Norway.

In Reykjavik, data on global radiation are collected and reported annually to the World Radiation Data Center in St. Petersburg (WRDC).

The IMO also monitors hydrological conditions in Iceland and runs a network of about 120 gauging stations in Icelandic Rivers. The network provides basic information for knowledge of the hydrology of Iceland. As the importance of monitoring and mediating information has been growing, the network has been updated and transmits data to the IMO centre at least once a day. The gauge network mainly measures water-flow, water-level and ground water, and in some cases other environmental factors.

Furthermore, the IMO runs flow monitoring network to watch, measure and warn against danger from floods originating in sub-glacial volcano and geothermal systems, or melt water, heavy rain and ice blockage of river-flow. The development of the network began in 1996, following glacial race in Skeiðará, and has in the last decade been extended to the areas south and north of Vatnajökull, south of Mýrdalsjökull, the South Iceland lowland and to Borgarfjörður. Each monitoring station has electronic registration equipment, pressure sensor to measure the water level, sensors for the conductivity and temperature in the water, solar panel which provides energy for the station, a telephone and a modem for the transfer of data. When conductivity or the water level reaches a given limit the IMO and the Icelandic Emergency Watch are alerted and a decision on actions can be taken.

The glaciers in Iceland have changed substantially in historic time, in particular in the most recent two to three decades; the decrease in glacier extent amounts to approximately 0,3–0,5% every year. The mass balance of the three largest glaciers, Vatnajökull, Hofsjökull and Langjökull, is monitored annually by scientists from the University of Iceland and the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The mass balance has been negative since 1995, with one excep­tion. The glaciers have lost ca. 275 km3 of ice since 1995, which corre­sponds to ca. 8% of their total volume.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office participates in the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) international collaboration established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to fosters collaboration in observing all components of the cryosphere, The GCW has established procedures for accessing, sharing and utilizing cryospheric data and for developing value-added analyses and indicators based on in-situ, space-based, and airborne observations of the cryosphere. The outlines of Icelandic glaciers are delineated regularly, using maps, aerial photographs and satellite images. These data are delivered to an international database, e.g., by World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland and Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) in the US.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office operates a network of continuous geodetic GPS stations in Iceland to monitor crustal deformation related to plate movements, volcanic unrest and earthquakes. With geodetic quality instruments and specialized software, it is possible to achieve the daily position of the stations to within a few millimetres. CGPS stations are therefore an excellent tool to monitor crustal deformation. These stations allow IMO staff to monitor isostatic crustal changes that occur as a result of glacier mass loss due to climate change.

Both the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) and the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) contribute to ocean climate observations. The IMO and MFRI have been supporting Meteo France in deploying surface drifters with barometers and SST for weather observations and climate in recent years. The MFRI maintains a monitoring net of about 70 hydrobiological stations on 10 standard sections (transects) around Iceland with most of the sections extending beyond the continental slope. These stations are monitored three to four times per year for measurements of temperature and salinity and once or two times a year for phosphate, nitrate and silicate and once a year for phytoplankton and zooplankton. Some of these stations have been monitored regularly since around 1950. The MFRI has monitored carbonate system parameters on two time series stations northeast and west of Iceland since 1983. A network of about 10 continuous sea surface temperature meters is maintained at coastal stations all around the country.

The MFRI has been involved in several monitoring projects of ocean currents, in cooperation with European and American scientists. This work has included European and Nordic projects such as the Variability of exchanges in the northern seas, West-Nordic Ocean Climate, Meridional Overturning Exchange with the Nordic seas (MOEN), Arctic-Subarctic Ocean Flux-Array for European Climate: west (ASOF-W), Thermohaline Overturning - at Risk (THOR) and the North Atlantic Climate (NACLIM) project, which all involved the monitoring of fluxes of water and heat over the Greenland – Scotland Ridge.

Following the CES project, two projects on the cryosphere and wind, were initiated by some of the participants in the previous climate and energy related projects. These were the SVALI and ICEWIND projects, both funded by the Top Research Initiative (TRI). The SVALI project examined the complex effects of climate change on Arctic glaciers, ice and snow. The projects tackle questions such as How fast is land ice volume in the Arctic and North-Atlantic area changing, and why? Will these processes continue to accelerate? What are the consequences for sea-level and ocean circulation? What are the implications for society? The ICEWIND project focuses on wind energy in cold areas and its main goal was to share knowledge between the Nordic countries and identify factors that delay or prevent the adoption of wind energy in the Nordic countries. In Iceland, the main focus has been on establishment of atlases for wind and icing as well as integration of wind power with other energy sources.

The IMO has led the scientific committee on climate change and the impacts of climate change in Iceland since 1999. The committee has published 3 reports since then (2000, 2008 and 2018) and the next one is expected to be published in 2023.
Extreme weather is an ongoing climate risk in Iceland, especially with regards to extreme precipitation that can lead to flooding, landslides and avalanches with associated property damage and loss of life.

Associated with this risk is the enhanced risk of landslides due to slope weakening in areas of glacier retreat, and also due to reduced permafrost.Weather hazards also lead to a risk of high oceanic waves and ocean flooding. This is a risk that is likely to be exacerbated due to sea level rise.

Increased growth of forest will also enhance the risk of bush and forest fires especially associated with the possible increase droughts.
Hazard type Acute/Chronic Observed climate hazards
WaterAcuteDrought
Flood
Glacial lake outburst
Heavy precipitation
Snow and ice load
ChronicChanging precipitation patterns and types
Ocean acidification
Precipitation hydrological variability
Sea level rise
Solid massAcuteAvalanche
Landslide
Subsidence
ChronicCoastal_erosion
Soil erosion
Sol degradation
TemperatureAcuteCold wave frost
Wildfire
ChronicChanging temperature
Permafrost thawing
Temperature variability
WindAcuteStorm
Chronic
Hazard type Acute/Chronic Future climate hazards Qualitative trend
WaterAcuteDroughtevolution uncertain or unknown
Floodsignificantly increasing
Glacial lake outburst Futureevolution uncertain or unknown
Heavy precipitationsignificantly increasing
Snow and ice loadevolution uncertain or unknown
ChronicChanging precipitation patterns and typessignificantly increasing
Ocean acidificationsignificantly increasing
Precipitation hydrological variabilitysignificantly increasing
Sea level risesignificantly increasing
Water scarcityevolution uncertain or unknown
Solid massAcuteAvalanche Futureevolution uncertain or unknown
Landslide Futuresignificantly increasing
Subsidence Futurewithout significant change
ChronicCoastal erosionwithout significant change
Soil erosionevolution uncertain or unknown
Sol degradationevolution uncertain or unknown
Solifluctionevolution uncertain or unknown
TemperatureAcuteCold wave frostevolution uncertain or unknown
Heat waveevolution uncertain or unknown
Wildfiresignificantly increasing
ChronicPermafrost thawingsignificantly increasing
Temperature variabilityevolution uncertain or unknown
WindAcuteStormevolution uncertain or unknown
ChronicChanging wind patternsevolution uncertain or unknown
Extreme weather is an existing pressure in Iceland. High winds and extreme precipitation lead to flooding and property damage and even loss of life.

Slope weakening and landslides are an existing risk, especially in areas of glacier retreat and areas with reduced permafrost.

Weather hazards can lead to ocean flooding.

Increased forest growth is affecting the risk of forest fires.
Ongoing forest growth will enhance the risk of bush and forest fires especially associated with the possible increase in droughts.

Sea level rise will increase the risk of ocean flooding.

Glacier retreat will lead to enhanced risk of slope failure and reduced pressure on magma chambers will enhance the production of magma that may result in volcanic eruptions.

Extreme weather and enhanced precipitation intensity may lead to more flash floods and associated property damage.

Key affected sectors

Key affected sector(s)other
Rating of the observed impacts of key hazards, including changes in frequency and magnitudelow
Different rating of the observed impacts of key hazards
AssessmentInformation is not available at the moment.
Rating of the key hazards' likelihood of occurrence and exposure to them under future climatenot applicable
Different rating of the likelihood of the occurrence of key hazards and exposure to them under future climate
Rating of the vulnerability, including adaptive capacitynot applicable
Different rating of the vulnerability and/or adaptive capacity
AssessmentInformation is not available at the moment.
Rating for the risk of potential future impactsnot applicable
Different rating of the risk of potential future impacts
AssessmentInformation is not available at the moment.

Overview of institutional arrangements and governance at the national level

Iceland's Scientific Committee develops Iceland's Scientific Assessment Report on Climate Change and Climate Impacts.

Forthcoming report in 2023. Prior reports published in 2000, 2008, and 2018.
Intended adaptation efforts

Iceland is planning to introduce its first formal portfolio of adaptation measures alongside the establishment of its first National Adaptation Plan which is mandated by law and is currently being scoped through the expert stakeholder engagement process based on the 2021 National Adaptation Strategy.
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Progress in implementation

Parallel to the development of the National Adaptation Plan, the government has begun the planning and implementation of capacity-build adaptation measures. A key element in Iceland’s climate change adaptation policy world is the Office for Climate Services and Adaptation located at the Met Office. Moreover, the Government has specifically been engaging the municipalities and regions to facilitate the integration of the adaptation policy cycle on the municipal level. Currently, the Icelandic Regional Development Institute is heading a project in collaboration with the Met Office and the National Planning Agency to pilot an approach to establish climate change adaptation within the municipal governance structure.
No information available at this time.
No information available at this time.
Office for Climate Services and Adaptation at the MET Office aims to coordinate adaptation-relevant climate information.

Many different government research institutions collect relevant data.
Currently, research, climate services, and mainstreaming adaptation into local governance. Priorities will be further established in the process of developing the National Adaptation Plan.
Knowledge gaps. Need for research in many areas and sectors.
The government's vision for the future is that the society and ecosystems of Iceland will have the resilience to face climate hazards and that adaptation to climate change will be a fixed part of policies and activities in the public sector, institutions and businesses, as well as those of appropriate sectors and industries so that analyses and decisions take into account the climate risks and their consequences.

The main objectives include the development of Iceland's first National Adaptation Plan, the piloting of an approach to adaptation on the level of local governance, and the continuing development of climate services and the Office for Climate Services and Adaptation.
Stakeholder engagement process with multiple sectoral workshops ongoing to inform the structure of the National Adaptation Plan.
Inclusion of a diverse set of stakeholders and strategically those particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts in the ongoing stakeholder engagement process for the National Adaptation Plan.
Inclusion of a diverse set of stakeholders and strategic engagement with sectoral actors in the ongoing stakeholder engagement process for the National Adaptation Plan.

Selection of actions and (programmes of) measures

Description
A pilot project to assist a set of municipalities in developing packages of adaptation measures and the parallel development of guidelines for municipalities to develop adaptation measures.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
A: Governance and Institutional
Sub-KTM
A1: Policy instruments
Description
Steering Group to propose a governance, modalities, and priorities prior to the establishment of a structure for developing the first National Adaptation Plan. Parallel stakeholder engagement process with multiple sectoral workshops.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
A: Governance and Institutional
Sub-KTM
A2: Management and Planning
Description
The establishment of a partnership and platform for actors carrying out research relevant to adaptation. Encourages cooperation in analysis and research on the impacts of climate change aiming to ensure an overview of knowledge creation on the impacts of climate change focusing on adaptation of ecosystems and society across different categories of knowledge and knowledge practices.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
A: Governance and Institutional
Sub-KTM
A3: Coordination and Cooperation
Description
Further development of the Office of Climate Services and Adaptation, including work on an Icelandic Climate Atlas for information relevant to adaptation.
Status
Key type measure (KTM)
A: Governance and Institutional
Sub-KTM
A3: Coordination and Cooperation
Monitoring and evaluation

Iceland foresees the development of an M&E system for adaptation as part of the development of the National Adaptation Plan. The current National Adaptation Strategy has as its goal that adaptation measures will be systematically monitored and evaluated based on a diverse set of criteria.
Monitoring and evaluation

Iceland foresees the development of an M&E system for adaptation as part of the development of the National Adaptation Plan. The current National Adaptation Strategy has as its goal that adaptation measures will be systematically monitored and evaluated based on a diverse set of criteria.
Parallel to the long-term development of the National Adaptation Plan, the government has begun the planning and implementation of capacity building adaptation measures. A key element in Iceland’s climate change adaptation policy world is the Office for Climate Services and Adaptation located at the Met Office.
capacity-building

Moreover, the Government has specifically been engaging the municipalities and regions to facilitate the integration of the adaptation policy cycle on the municipal level. Currently, the Icelandic Regional Development Institute is heading a project in collaboration with the Met Office and the National Planning Agency to pilot an approach to establish climate change adaptation within the municipal governance structure.
No information is available for the moment.
No information is available for the moment.
No information is available for the moment.
No information is available for the moment.
New Scientific Assessment Report forthcoming in 2023.

Plans to reevaluate the assessment system and align with IPCC cycle for the future.
No information is available for the moment.

Good practices and lessons learnt

The unit supports the coordination of the collection of information and its synthesis for the Impact Assessment report written by players from Iceland's scientific community.

The unit also convenes a board of representatives from the main research institutions monitoring climate impacts for the development of a platform or partnership for research and researchers for climate- or adaptation-related studies and information collection.

Cooperation and experience

Iceland is part of the UNFCCC and engages with its workstream on adaptation.

Iceland is also a part of the IPCC and engages with its work.
As part of its collaboration within the Nordic Council of Ministers, Iceland took the initiative to organize the 6th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in 2023, NOCCA'23, in Reykjavík, Iceland. The overall objective of NOCCA is to be a platform for the Nordics to exchange key learnings and to open the dialog on adaptation. To enable the exchange of ideas of adaptation methods and opportunities across many sectors. To increase knowledge on the latest climate science and to discuss how to integrate solutions for adaptation and mitigation. See http://www.nocca.is

Iceland has followed the European conference of climate adaptation, ECCA, and is looking to participate in it.
As part of its collaboration within the Nordic Council of Ministers, Iceland took the initiative to organize the 6th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in 2023, NOCCA'23, in Reykjavík, Iceland. The overall objective of NOCCA is to be a platform for the Nordics to exchange key learnings and to open the dialog on adaptation. To enable the exchange of ideas of adaptation methods and opportunities across many sectors. To increase knowledge on the latest climate science and to discuss how to integrate solutions for adaptation and mitigation. See http://www.nocca.is

Iceland also participates in joint research projects under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Overview of institutional arrangements and governance at the sub-national level (where “sub-national” refers to local and regional)

Climate Impacts Knowledge Creation Consultation Forum

The establishment of a partnership and platform for actors carrying out research relevant to adaptation. Encourages cooperation in analysis and research on the impacts of climate change aiming to ensure an overview of knowledge creation on the impacts of climate change focusing on adaptation of ecosystems and society across different categories of knowledge and knowledge practices.

Steering Group for a Proposal to the Minister on Governance, Modalities, and Priorities for the National Adaptation Plan

Steering Group for the preparation of the establishment of a structure for the first National Adaptation Plan. Parallel stakeholder engagement process with multiple sectoral workshops.
A pilot project to assist a set of municipalities in developing packages of adaptation measures and the development of guidelines for municipalities to develop adaptation measures. Implemented by the Icelandic Met Office, the Icelandic Regional Development Institute and the National Planning Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Climate.

Environment and Climate Coordination Group of Regional Associations in Iceland (8 regions) convened by the Icelandic Regional Development Institute.

Local governments, like Gardabær and Reykjavik, have implemented sustainable urban water solutions, focusing on nature-based solutions for the management of precipitation through ecosystems rather than built sewer systems.
The City of Reykjavik has adaptation goals and measures in the Climate Action Plan for 2021-2025 (https://reykjavik.is/[…]/reykjavikclimateactionplan2021-2025.pdf).

The aforementioned pilot project to assist a set of municipalities in developing packages of adaptation measures and the parallel development of guidelines for municipalities to develop adaptation measures.

The aforementioned Office for Climate Services and Adaptation is also to serve the sub-national level.
2021 report on climate change adaptation by Reykjavik Energy, power and utilities company owned by three municipalities: https://arsskyrsla2020.or.i[…]_a%C3%B0_auknum_ACUe986.pdf

Landsvirkjun, Iceland's National Power Company, does adaptation-related research, e.g. glacial melt: http://gogn.lv.is/files/2022/2022-054.pdf

Stakeholder engagement on the sub-national level is mostly a part of urban planning processes, for instance taking into account national hazards.
Some municipalities use building codes and standard to plan in accordance with climate-induced sea-level rise and aim to use standards such as BREEAM in new buildings.
Municipalities that are a part of the Global Covenant of Mayors need to communicate adaptation measures as part of reporting requirements.
The Climate Action Plan of Reykjavik speaks of both mitigation and adaptation measures. The plan shall be reevaluated and updated within at least a 5-year time frame and possibly every 3 years in the future in accordance with the Covenant of Mayors.
Some municipalities, including Reykjavik, Akureyri and Hveragerdi are part of the Global Covenant of Mayors.

As part of the NOCCA conference, held in Reykjavik in 2023, Iceland brings together representatives of Nordic municipalities speaking about lessons learned at the sub-national level in the Nordics.

Ministry of the Environment, Energy, and Climate

Department of Strategic Planning and Implementation
Coordinating adaptation policy and reporting
Magnús Örn Agnesar-Sigurðsson
Head of Division; lead on climate change adaptation within public administration.

Relevant websites and social media source

[Disclaimer]
The source of information presented in these pages is the reporting of EU Member States under 'Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action' and the voluntary reporting of EEA Member Countries.'