M4.5 Quake Rocks Southwest Iceland

svartsengi power plant reykjanes

An M4.5 earthquake registered near Trölladyngja on the Reykjanes peninsula shook Southwest Iceland around 10:50 this morning.

A smaller, secondary M3.9 earthquake was registered soon after, at 10:54 local time. Smaller aftershocks were also registered.

reykjanes earthquake
Met Office Iceland

According to the Meteorological Office of Iceland, the earthquakes originated at a depth of 5 km [3 mi]. The Meteorological Office further stated that they are likely “trigger” quakes, which accompany magma movement.

The quakes were felt throughout much of South and West Iceland. The epicentre was located at around 20 km [12 mi] north-northeast of the Svartsengi power plant, where recent land rise due to magma intrusion has been detected.

Stay up to date with the latest on the Reykjanes peninsula here.

 

Nine Days of Cold Spell, With No End in Sight

Reykjavík

The capital area has seen below-zero temperatures uninterrupted since March 6. Today, March 14, marks the ninth straight day of subzero temperatures.

Although temperatures may briefly rise above zero tomorrow afternoon, no clear end is in sight for the cold spell.

In a report on Facebook, meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson stated: “It’s an unusually long spell for March, when the sun has begun to warm during the day. The previous record this winter was for some 14 days before Christmas, though this was when the sun was at its lowest.”

According to Einar, the coldest March in living memory was in 1979, when the temperatures remained below zero for 11 continuous days, from February 28 to March 10.

Though the month began with relatively warm temperatures, the average temperature during the latest cold spell has sat between -6.5°C and -7°C [19°F to 21°F].

The low temperatures are expected to last at least until the weekend, with a slight rise on Friday.

Yellow Weather Warning For Nearly Entire Nation Tomorrow

weather iceland

The Meteorological Office has announced a yellow alert for nearly the entire nation, beginning early tomorrow morning, February 2. Conditions are expected to last into the evening.

The only area exempt from tomorrow’s warnings is the greater Reykjavík area.

Eastern and southeastern winds can be expected to range between 15 to 23 m/s [33 to 51 mph] for much of the nation. Snow and sleet are expected, with temperatures hovering around the freezing point.

Especially harsh winds are expected on the Kjalarnes peninsula and near Eyjafjalljökull, with forecasts of winds up to 35 m/s [78 mph].

Travellers and residents alike are advised against unnecessary travel, especially on mountain roads which may be subject to closures.

The warnings are also noteworthy as they follow a recent announcement by the Meteorological Office that a record number of extreme weather warnings were issued in the past year.

meteorological office iceland
From Veðurstofa Íslands. Annual numbers of yellow, orange, and red weather alerts.

For 2022, a total of 456 weather alerts were issued. While 2020 had more total weather alerts, 2022 represents a new record for extreme weather, with 74 orange warnings and 10 red warnings.

The most warnings were given for South and Southeast Iceland.

 

Reshuffling of Environmental Agencies Merges Ten into Three

Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson.

Plans to reorganize ten agencies in environment, energy, and climate into three were announced today by the government.

The plans were first discussed yesterday at a meeting where Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson. He highlighted the need to have fewer, stronger agencies to streamline regulations, while also highlighting the benefits of institutional knowledge that will allow employees to work in and move between what were previously different agencies.

Under the new organization, environmental regulations in Iceland will be split between the Nature Conservation and Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Environmental Sciences, and the Climate Agency.

environment iceland
Stjórnarráð Íslands

Under the new schema, the Nature Conservation and Heritage Foundation would combine Vatnajökull National Park, Þingvellir National Park, and the Nature Conservation Department of the Environmental Agency. The new Institute for Environmental Sciences will bring together the Meteorological Office, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the Icelandic Land Survey, Iceland GeoSurvey, and the Natural Research Centre at Mývatn. The new Climate Agency will then comprise of the National Energy Authority and all departments of the Environmental Agency outside of Nature Conservation.

The new structure will hopefully bring greater flexibility to energy and environmental policy in Iceland, with projects now more easily transferred between formerly separate agencies.

While final details of the new structure have not yet been decided, minister Guðlaugur also announced that they will prioritize job creation in rural areas, and involve the municipalities as much as possible in the decision-making process.

In the announcement, the minister stated: “the main goal is to strengthen the institutions of the ministry to deal with the enormous challenges that await us as a society, where climate issues are at the top of the list. With the new institutional structure, the aim is to increase efficiency and reduce waste resulting from redundancy and lack of cooperation. There is also great scope for increasing the number of jobs in rural areas, and creating more desirable workplaces.”

The reorganization will affect approximately 600 employees in various agencies, some 61% of which are in the capital region.