Man Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution in Downtown Reykjavík

A man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution in downtown Reykjavík in the early hours of Thursday morning, Vísir reports. According to police, they received a call around 3:00 am complaining of “an unwanted man,” although where precisely the man was unwelcome and what exactly he was doing wasn’t specified by the caller.

Police eventually located the man, who they arrested on suspicion of having attempted to purchase sexual services. In addition to having ignored police orders, the man was also found in possession of illegal drugs. He was taken to a police station where he spent the night and was expected to be questioned on Friday.

In 2009, Icelandic law was changed such that it is not illegal to offer sexual services, but it is illegal to purchase them. At the same time, prostitution was also classified as abuse. This is modelled on Swedish law which, as spokeswoman for the Stígamót Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence Guðrún Jónsdóttir noted at the time, “addresses the demand fueling the commercial sex industry.”

RÚV reports that roughly 60 people are offering paid sexual services online in Iceland at any given time. The majority of these sex workers are of foreign origin, although it can be hard to actually identify Icelandic prostitutes as they tend to use “legitimate” dating apps or websites to find clients. It was long suspected that tourists were the primary customers driving an increase in prostitution in Iceland, but recent investigations show that this isn’t the full story. There is considerable demand among locals as well; smaller towns and villages around the country have, for instance, also experienced a rise in prostitution.

Scientists Propose New Theory Of How Marimo is Formed

Scientists researching the ecosystem of Lake Mývatn in North Iceland may have finally answered the longstanding question of how Icelandic marimo, or lake balls—are formed, RÚV reports.

Marimo are perfectly round spheres measuring 10 – 15 cm across and are, as National Geographic explains, composed of an algae species that is actually quite widespread in the Northern hemisphere: Aegagropila linnaei. But the spherical form of this algae is extremely rare and only found in a few places: Lake Akan in Japan, Lake Svityaz in Ukraine, and Lake Mývatn in Iceland.

Although Mývatn’s marimo were designated a protected species in Iceland in 2006, they almost entirely disappeared from the lake in 2013. It’s thought that an excess of cyanobacteria in the lake contributed to the marimo’s decline: photosynthetic cyanobacteria obscure the surface of the water and prevent sunlight from reaching the lakebed where marimo are formed. According to Árni Einarsson, the director of the Nature Research Institute at Mývatn (Ramý), cyanobacteria are a natural part of the Mývatn ecosystem, but pollution in the lake caused an unnatural increase that then had a trickle-down effect on species like marimo.

Despite their decline, however, a small number of Mývatn’s marimo have endured. For reasons that scientists cannot entirely explain, there is less cyanobacteria in the lake this summer and the water is unusually clear—clearer, in fact, than it has been since the 80s. As such, researchers have spent the season investigating, among other things, the necessary conditions for marimo formation. This has been something of a mystery up until now.

Árni says that the scientists now think that marimo can only form in shallow and rather turbulent water. They think they begin to grow on rocks and crags on the shallow bottom of the lake, like moss. Then, as they get larger, they are ripped from their perches by waves and agitation and sent rolling freely through the water. It’s still unknown if this explanation can be applied to the large marimo that once proliferated on the Mývatn lakebed, but it is currently the scientists’ best hypothesis.

Efforts have been made to reduce the amount of cyanobacteria in the lake and hopefully, this will mean that less of it will obscure the surface of the lake in the future.

More Than 100 Lightning Strikes Recorded During Thunderstorm

Rain in Reykjavík

More than 100 lightning strikes were recorded in Southwest Iceland Wednesday night, RÚV reports. They were accompanied by thunderstorms around the village of Þorlákshöfn.

Both thunder and lightning are relatively rare occurrences in Iceland, although there was also a notable thunderstorm in the capital area earlier this year. According to the lightning advisory on Iceland’s Civil Defense Office’s website, it’s estimated that there are between 250 and 600 lightning flashes a year in the whole country. By comparison, the world’s “principal lightning hotspot,” i.e. the southern end of a single lake (Lake Maracaibo) in Venezuela, experiences 232.52 flashes of lightning per square kilometre per year.

Because thunderstorms are so rare, special effort is generally made to advise the public about safety measures during storms. Elín Björk Jónsdóttir, a meteorologist with the Icelandic Met Office, posted about the proliferation of lightning strikes on Facebook on Wednesday night, noting that people should stay out of pools and hot pots during the storm, and seek shelter if they are outside in the area.

“Icelanders, however, find me very irritating when I point out that they should get out of hot tubs and swimming pools during a thunderstorm,” added Elín Björk. “One even told me nobody else in the entire world does that.”

Meteorologist Óli Þór Árnason noted that the majority of the lightning strikes occurred outside of residential areas—a relief, in that there aren’t great protections in place against lightning in Iceland, such as surge protectors. This means that a lightning strike too close to a town or home can do a lot of damage to home appliances.