Pollen from birch trees in Europe and as far away as Russia reached Iceland last week. RÚV reports that the pollen was carried along with dust from the Sahara Desert on strong winds that originated in Eastern Europe. Much of the dust and pollen settled over the Mediterranean Sea, but a measurable quantity made the journey all the way to Iceland.
On April 25, the First Day of Summer in Iceland, a fair amount of the Saharan dust and a great deal of European pollen was caught in traps placed by the Icelandic Institute of Natural History in the municipality of Garðabær in the capital area and in Akureyri in North Iceland. According to an announcement on its website, the institute has only measured a higher pollen count twice since it began taking such measurements, that is in May 2006 and April 2014.
There was a veritable explosion of vegetation blooming over the last week in both North and South Iceland, although particularly around Akureyri. It’s expected then that there will be high levels of birch pollen circulating in the coming weeks, which may cause difficulties for people with pollen allergies.