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.

Wind Carries European Birch Pollen to Iceland

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.