New Study Shows Large Hole in Arctic Ozone Layer

mosaic polarstern

A major research expedition has recently shed new light on the extent to which the arctic ozone layer has been depleted.

The MOSAiC program, then the largest research expedition ever of the Arctic Ocean, set off in September 2019. Hundreds of scientists representing some twenty nations were involved with the project.

Central to the project was the German ice breaker “Polarstern,” or Polar Star, which was left adrift in polar ice for a year. Instruments aboard the vessel took atmospheric measurements, and the results of the study are now being discussed at the Arctic Round Table.

A key finding in the study was that even after the international banning of ozone-harming substances, the largest hole ever found in the ozone was detected over the Arctic at an altitude of some 20km.

Dr. Markus Rex, a German researcher at the University of Potsdam, stated that: “the ozone layer is not improving. Things are getting worse in the Arctic. Now we understand that it is because the decomposers from the gas are still present in the atmosphere. Climate change makes them more aggressive: it’s bad news for the future of the ozone layer in the Arctic.”

Nevertheless, there is some occasion for hope.

Dr. Markus Rex continued: “We saw that under the ice the sea reaches a freezing point down to a depth of 14 meters in the winter. There is a healthy base for winter ice formation, and we believe we are still in a position to save the ice if we stop global warming. It responds very linearly to warming, and if we stop the warming, the melting of the ice will stop. That is good. This puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. We are the last generation that can save the sea ice in the Arctic.” 

Read more about the MOSAiC expedition here.

ISK 20 Million to Support E-Sports

esports iceland

Reykjavík City Council approved a grant proposal yesterday to fund sports clubs with e-sports teams. The funding will total some ISK 20 million.

Björn Gíslason, city councilperson, has stated his support of the proposal to Vísir, saying that there are high costs to starting e-sports leagues, and that the government’s assistance is important. “It is my dream that electronic sports are implemented in all sports clubs in Reykjavík, especially with the goal of preventing social isolation and increasing the social skills of children and teenagers,” Björn said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the proposal has been critiqued by representatives from the Independence Party, with some suggesting that e-sports are not an appropriate or important field for government support.

Notably, Iceland already has a relatively established e-sports gaming scene. Local sports clubs have been home to e-sports teams since 2018.

Iceland has also hosted several important e-sports tournaments, having an advantage especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with relatively relaxed restrictions on gatherings.

Because e-sports are generally at home in high-tech nations, such as South Korea, Japan, China, and also other Nordics such as Denmark and Sweden, the Icelandic e-sports community has tried to make its mark among these peers.

Supporters of the grant for funding also highlight the role that e-sports play in young peoples’ lives. Like traditional sports, they claim, they encourage young people to work together with their peers and form social bonds. Proponents have pointed to the role of e-sports in self discipline, emotional management, responsibility, and other important aspects of childhood development.

Record Numbers of Pink Salmon Caught in Norway Have Icelanders Bracing for Invasion

humpback salmon iceland

Record numbers of pink salmon, an invasive species, have been caught in Norwegian rivers this year, leaving some Icelandic fisherman worried for a potential wave of the invasive fish.

From 2017 to 2019, some 6 – 7,000 pink salmon have been caught in Norwegian rivers. However, this last year a record 200,000 were caught, 90% of which in the northern region of Finnmark.

Read more: Record Number of Pink Salmon Caught

The invasive species is known to originate from Russia, where fish farms have been established in the White Sea, off of the Kola peninsula. There are estimated to be around 1 million pink salmon off the coast of of Norway, with around 550 thousand wild salmon.

Records have also been recently been broken in Iceland, with some 339 pink salmon being caught in the summer of 2021. In the spring of 2022, juveniles were found in three rivers in the southwestern part of Iceland, including Botnsá in Hvalfjörður, Langá á Mýrum and the Grímsár-Hvítár confluence in Borgarfjörður.

Pink salmon have been a known presence in Icelandic rivers since the first one was caught in 1960. Pink salmon are now seen all throughout Northern Europe, from the British Isles to Norway. Conservationists are concerned that the species may disrupt native habitats and compete with native stocks for food.


Travel Ban to Mýrdalsjökull Lifted

Katla volcano

After a meeting with Iceland’s Meteorological Office, authorities in South Iceland have lifted the travel ban which was in place following increased seismic activity from Katla.

Significant earthquakes were recorded under Mýrdalsjökull this Sunday, October 16. The largest of the recent quakes was measured at 3.8M. Because of this increased activity, Katla, one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcano systems, was placed under special monitoring and trips to the region were temporarily suspended.

Notably, this affected many ice cave tourist trips.

Read more: Increasing Seismic Activity under Mýrdalsjökull

Increased seismic activity meant both an increased chance of glacial flooding and also potential exposure to volcanic gases. Now, however, authorities believe the disturbance have passed and trips to the area can resume.

The authorities recommend that tourism operators carry with them gas meters and be ready to leave the area if conditions change.