Public perception of jökulhlaup hazard and risk in Iceland: implications for community education

Deanne Bird*, Gudrun Gisladottir, Dale Dominey-Howes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies indicate that large prehistoric jökulhlaup have flooded west from Mýrdalsjökull glacier along the Markarfljót River, south Iceland. This new evidence coupled with an increase in seismicity in the Katla caldera, the underlying volcano of Mýrdalsjökull, has highlighted a possible risk to local communities encompassing the Markarfljót River. Consequently, the Icelandic Civil Defence held an evacuation exercise in March 2006 to test a newly developed evacuation plan. Following this exercise, we conducted questionnaire surveys in order to investigate the public's knowledge and perception of jökulhlaup hazard and risk. Our results indicate that residents have a sound knowledge of jökulhlaup hazard. However, only 50% of residents perceive that their community could be at risk. Therefore, it is essential that jökulhlaup risk perception is increased to ensure a positive response to evacuation orders. This can be achieved through education programmes, open forum meetings and by regularly distributing hazard information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-175
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Management and Decision Making
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • Community education
  • Hazard
  • Iceland
  • Jökulhlaup
  • Katla
  • Mýrdalsjökull
  • Public perception
  • Risk


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