Big Fish In Small Ponds

vebudin blackport icelandic television

Blackport – a political thriller set in the remote Westfjords of the 1980s, documents what happens to a small fishing village when the Icelandic fishing quota system is implemented. If this doesn’t sound like the premise of a hit TV show to you – that’s understandable. But Blackport had Icelanders glued to their television sets […]

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Building Blocks

architecture Kirkjusandur apartments

“Our city belongs to all of us. It’s so much more than a collection of buildings.” To architect Jórunn Ragnarsdóttir, a city is an organic entity, a collaboration between the architects who design its buildings and the inhabitants who populate them and traverse the streets between them. Jórunn is one of Iceland’s most respected architects […]

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A Difficult Read

Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir rithöfundur

Every New Year’s Eve for a decade, Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir made the resolution to write a book. It took a while, but in 2019, Magma was published – a harrowing story about how a young woman loses herself within the confines of an emotionally abusive relationship affected by the pornification of society.It was published in February, […]

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No Country for Old Mosquitoes

The Faroe Islands. The Orkney Islands. Jan Mayen. Iceland. These are some of the few places in the world where you won’t find mosquitoes. You sometimes hear that Iceland is the only country in the world utterly devoid of mosquitoes. That’s technically correct as the Faroe Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Icelanders often savour victories based on technicalities the most. But the mosquito-free paradise could be coming to an end. Surprisingly, the bug fauna in Iceland is more abundant and more diverse than people believe.

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Changes to the 2-Metre Rule Announced

The Ministry of Health has announced changes to the rules regarding public gatherings. The new rules will come into play on August 28 and will be in place until September 10 at the least. The changes are not substantial, and previous releases and instructions are still in full effect. The main change is that the so-called 2-metre rule has been changed, along with allowing contact in sports, stage rehearsals, music performances, and film-making.

Previously, the rule stipulated that business operators ensure that there was a minimum of 2-metres between members of different households. This rule came into play, for example, in restaurants were spaces were created between tables.

The rule has now been amended to stipulate that distance restrictions should be in place between people who do not have close relationships.

This was revealed in a press release from the Ministry of Health earlier today.

The main changes are as follows:

The 2-metre rule: Changes to the restrictions for distance between individuals. Business operators previously had to ensure that there were 2 metres between individuals that do not share a household. The new stipulations state that business operators have to ensure that individuals that do not have close relationships stay 2 metres away from each other.

Sports: The new stipulations allow the practice of sports in general. Sports that are not part of The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland shall set instructions themselves or follow the same instructions for similar sports that are members of The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland.

Stage art, music, and film-making: Contact is allowed in stage rehearsals, music performances, and film-making. The same rules apply here that do for contact in sports.

Gyms: Restrictions due to risk of infection in gyms are the same as in swimming pools. Guests may not exceed half or less of the maximum approved visitor number in each place, according to the operating license.


Second COVID Test for Ministers Negative

A second COVID test for government ministers that were possibly exposed to the virus has been returned negative, RÚV reports. The ministers had been in quarantine until the first test was returned back negative. It was believed that the ministers’ were exposed to COVID-19 during a dinner in Hótel Rangá in South Iceland.

The result was revealed in a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office late last night. The first COVID test was performed on Friday, of which all returned negative. All of the ministers thought to have been exposed to the virus went for a second test this past Monday morning. Tests for three employees at the Prime Minister’s Office also came back negative.

See also: All Ministers’ First COVID Test Negative

The cabinet ministers held a meeting on the past August 18 and attended dinner together at Hótel Rangá, near Hella in South Iceland. Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir and Minister for Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason did not attend the dinner. A number of covid infections were traced to the hotel.

Following the dinner, contact tracers traced two active COVID-19 infections to the hotel and immediately focused their containment efforts on three groups of guests, one of which included the ministers.

Authorities have since conducted extensive tests among hotel staff and guests; people who had breakfast during a specific window on Sunday morning have been directed to quarantine. The Directorate of Health announced on Friday that eight of the ten people diagnosed that day with active COVID infections had stayed at the hotel.





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.

Government Guarantees Line of Credit for Icelandair

Keflavík airport Icelandair
The Icelandic government has decided to guarantee a line of credit for Icelandair airline. The guarantee amounts to ISK 16.5 billion ($121 million/€101 million).
Negotiations between Icelandair group and the Icelandic government have taken place in recent weeks, in co-operation with the airline’s banks, Íslandsbanki bank and Landsbankinn bank. The initiative is subject to the two parties reaching an agreement on the terms, the approval of the Icelandic Parliament, and the success of Icelandair’s planned refinancing initiative.
Icelandair has postponed its public stock offering from August until September. Úlfar Steindórsson, chairman of the airline’s board, told Vísir that the reason for the postponement is a delay in negotiations with credit holders as well as the airplane manufacturer Boeing, due to problems with their Max 737 planes. Icelandair had to ground a number of Max 737s and an agreement was in place for the purchase of additional aircraft.

Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated earlier this month that the prerequisite for the government line of credit was that the company’s planned public stock offering was successful. The two factors are intertwined, however, as investors require the details of the line of credit terms.