Unusual Snow on Esja Slopes

esja mountain reykjavik

Reykjavík residents and visitors may have noticed a distinctive stripe on Esja’s slopes in the last few days.

As can be seen, a white band of snow stretches up Esja’s slope for about 300m. Above the 300m mark there is much less snow, and in many places no snow at all, leading to the interesting band of colour.

The Meteorological Office of Iceland claims on social media that they’ve received many questions about the phenomenon and have provided a brief public explanation.

Typically, we see the opposite on mountain slopes: white peaks, with bare sides. This is because the higher the elevation, the lower the average temperature. So precipitation falling at the peak is much more likely to be snow, while precipitation falling on the slopes may simply turn to rain.

The pattern visible on Esja for the last few days, according to the Meteorological Office, can be explained by a cycle of freezing and thawing.

Average temperatures have been very low in Iceland his winter, but data shows brief temperature spikes in low-lying areas. These warming periods, followed by continued cold averages, create a cycle of thawing and re-freezing that compacts the snow, making it denser and icier.

However, because the peaks have remained at freezing temperatures, the snow at higher elevations has remained powdery. Powdery snow is of course more susceptible to wind and is more likely to be blown away in storms. The Meteorological Office pointed out the night of January 8-9 as especially windy, with recorded wind speeds of 20 m/s (45 mph). Sure enough, the next day was when the distinctive snow pattern became visible.

Former National Team Captain Sara Björk Wins Maternity Rights Case

Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir fyrirliði landsliðs Íslands í fótbolta

Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, recently retired captain of the Women’s National Football Team, has won her maternity case against former club and employer Olympique Lyonnais.

Read more: Captain Sara Björk Retires from National Team

During her time at the prestigious French football club, she became the first Icelander to score in the finals of a Champions League match, among other achievements.

After becoming pregnant in 2021, however, she ran up against cultural expectations within professional sports that discourage athletes from having children during the height of their careers. 

Sara Björk arranged with her club to return to Iceland for the duration of her pregnancy, with the understanding that she would return to the team after giving birth. However, Lyon soon began withholding her pay. When it became clear the withheld pay was part of a pattern, Sara Björk pressed claims against Lyon. Now, she has been awarded the back pay, plus interest, in a landmark case of maternity rights in professional sports.

Sara Björk now plays for the Italian club Juventus.  A full account of her pregnancy and subsequent battle with Lyon can be read here.

In a statement on social media, Sara Björk said: “This is not ‘just business.’ This is about my rights as a worker, as a woman and as a human being.” 

Síminn Retires Clock Service after 86 Years

síminn iceland

Telecommunications company Síminn has decided to retire their clock service, where residents could call a number to know what time it is, after 86 years of service.

The company announced on their website that the service stopped answering calls on January 16. The change comes in response to a world in which information technology has made such services redundant, and Síminn points out in their announcement how we are now surrounded with many devices in our homes and offices that easily provide this service.

Utilisation of the service has declined significantly over the decades, and according to Síminn, was barely used at all in its final years.

The service was introduced in 1937, when Halldóra Briem was the first voice for the clock. According to Síminn, she travelled to the headquarters of the Swedish phone company Ericsson, where she recorded 90 separate different recordings that could be played back in different versions.

During its first years, the service was only available in Reykjavík. It was only introduced to Akureyri in 1950.

Over the years, voices of the clock have included actress Sigríður Hagalín (1963), actress Ingibjörg Björnsdóttir (1993), and the first man in 2013 with Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

 

 

Report Suggests Decreased Fine Collection Leads to Increase in Offenses

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The Icelandic National Audit Office (INAO) recently published a report on the collection of court fines, stating that since 2014, some ISK 1.3 billion (9.1 million USD, 8.4 million EUR) in court fines have either lapsed or been written off. Now, district attorney Ólafur Þór Hauksson has expressed his concern that this perceived lack of consequences may lead to an increase in offences.

See also: Prison Sentences Expire Due to Lack of Cell Space

In a statement on RÁS 2, Ólafur said: “Of course, we have to think about the deterrent effect of the work we are doing. So we agree with the state auditor that in order for the deterrent to be effective, the punishments must have some consequences.”

It came forth in the report that higher fines, in excess of ISK 10 million (70,200 USD, 64,700 EUR) were only collected in around 2% of cases. Notably, the Icelandic National Audit Office published a report with similar findings some 13 years ago and suggested changes to be implemented. Little, however, has been done in the intervening years to reform the problem.

The district attorney expressed his fear that the lack of meaningful deterrence could severely undermine law enforcement in Iceland.

“We are trying to confront this today, both by securing funding for fine collection, as well as confiscating illegal gains to try to stop this trend,” Ólafur stated to RÁS 2.