Hálslón Reservoir Full, Overflowing into Stuðlagil Canyon

Water levels in Hálslón reservoir, a storage reservoir connected to Kárahnjúkar Hydropower plant, reached their highest point late last Saturday night, Rúv reports. This affects the popular nature spectacle Stuðlagil in East Iceland, one of the largest basalt rock formations in Iceland. Travellers in the area should beware, as glacial water is now flowing out of the Hálslón reservoir, down to its old riverbed in Jökulsá á Dal river. The river flowing through Stuðlagil canyon is stronger than usual at this time of year. Some travellers have gone into the water this summer, putting themselves in risk. Entering the water now is believed to be even more dangerous, as the glacial water can easily grip people with it.

Water levels in Hálslón reservoir do not reach this high until ten days later on average. The Stuðlagil canyon emerged once the Kárahnjúkar hydropower plant diverted the riverbed in the area, creating the Hálslón reservoir in the process. Although the river Jökulsá á Dal still flows through the canyon, its water levels lowered significantly, revealing the basalt rock formation which had until then been hidden underneath the water. The murky glacial water stops overflowing from the reservoir in early October, giving the river back its blue-green colour.
Controversial power plant.
Kárahnjúkur hydropower, constructed in 2006, is the largest power plant in Iceland. It mostly provides power to the Alcoa owned Fjarðaál aluminum smelter in Reyðarfjörður. The project did not come without its critics, as the reservoir engulfed a large area of the highlands. The project is within an area that was previously the largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe. It covers over about 1,000 square kilometres in total and the rivers that supply water to the project are connected to Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest. It has been severely criticized by environmentalists, especially author Andri Snær Magnason.

Dust Research Underway in North-East Iceland

Iceland is believed to be one of the main dust-producing areas in the northern hemisphere, Kjarninn reports. The majority of the dust that forms in Iceland is blown northwards across the country and out towards the sea, even as far north as Svalbard. The international HiLDA project started measuring the past July 17 in Raufarhöfn in North-East Iceland. The scientists from the Germany University of Darmstadt have put up dust measurement devices in the area.

The project aims to shed light on how dust in the Arctic affects global climate change. A lof it still unknown about the dust, and the effects it has on projections for climate change. The scientists hope that the dust research project will reveal the effects the dust has. The phenomenon is very well known when it comes to dust that forms in deserts in the southern hemisphere, but not many are aware that Iceland is one of the main dust-producing areas in the northern hemisphere. Icelandic scientists have measured dust for some time, especially as soil erosion in the vast Icelandic highland has been a problem. The research has not been specially related to climate change, until now.
It is believed that projections for climate change account for too little for dust in their measurements. Dust produced in Iceland can reach as far north as Svalbard, and one of the main learning outcomes will be the origin and final destination of the dust.

Rif Field Center

The research is led by Rif Field Center, a research center in the land of Rif, the northernmost private land in Iceland. A private non-profit institution, Rif staff members will take care of the sample collection. Three different dust measurement devices will collect dust samples for up to two years. Rif Field Center was founded in 2014 with the goal of monitoring the ecosystem in the area around Raufarhöfn and on Melrakkaslétta peninsula, the most easily accessible Icelandic area which is classified as a polar region. Rif works with both Icelandic and multinational research institutes, with the goal that the Melrakkaslétta peninsula becomes one of the main focus areas for research on arctic ecosystems and climate change in those areas.

The monitoring has so far focused on birdlife, flora, and smaller animals, but a 2020 project now monitors freshwater on the peninsula. A weather station was erected there in 2018, and now the dust research project has been added to the list.

Head to the Rif Field Center website for further information on projects and applications.