Ash tree covered in snow (reverse) on the last day of January 2016
Kirstin Buchholz & Michael Munson (photographer) visited Iceland in February 2015. Here are some of their impressions and images of the places on the route.
Their visit took place during the Holuhraun volcanic eruption (click link for events in February 2015) which began on 31 August 2014. to the north of Vatnajökull glacier.
Kirsten writes: “When we started off in Reykjavik, it was chilly with 4°C and clear sky. When we reached the Golden Circle, it got colder, windier and we even had snow. Down south, it was about 0°C, windier and lots of broken icebergs from the glacier Vatnajökull in Jokulsarlon. The south and east coast of Iceland reminded us about Scotland’s west coast. The rocks, the maritime climate, the wind, the rain, the seagulls and the snow covered hills, apart from the black sand beach in Vik! …….. “
“The canyon Jokulsargljufur on our way north to Iceland was impressive – also the weather changed dramatically. The temperature dropped down to -10°C with snow, sleet, hail and rain and very high wind – sometimes all simultaneously! The cloud cover changed by the minute so the chances of seeing the Northern Lights were slim. There were loads of farms, cattle and horses around the south, east and north of Iceland. There are also reindeer, mostly on the east coast.”
The Vatnajökull glacier and its surrounds is a National Park, the largest in Europe, notable for its sub-glacial lakes and volcanos concealed under the ice cap. The last eruption was in 1996. It broke through the surface of the ice, emitting an ash cloud 10 km high. The subsequent spectacular release of meltwater caused great damage but increased the land area of the country by 7 square kilometres. There’s more on Vatnajökull at Iceland on the Web.
… the name of a lake in northern Iceland, which like Scotland was covered in ice during the last glaciation. The region experienced several major volcanic eruptions in recent millennia. One that happened 2300 years ago – that’s the middle of the Iron Age in Britain and the founding of Ancient Messene in Greece – led to the formation of the lake.
The area around the lake is still geothermally active, the images below showing smoke and fumes rising from small craters and holes in the ground.
Skógafoss and the southern agricultural plain
The farmland of Iceland experiences a form of the ‘northern cool summer’ effect in which the solar income is spread over the long days, encouraging crops and grass to produce a high output. The main farming activity is stock raising.
The waterfall, Skógafoss, is a major attraction of the southern region of Iceland. The fall is seen to the lower right of the top right image above. Note the red roofs in the left centre of that image – they are seen again at the right centre of the image to the left, which then shows the river flowing from the waterfall through pasture continuing down to the sea in the distance. The lower image taken from Skógafoss shows the strip of coastal grazing land, between hills and sea.
And we end with this scene in fading light from Þingvellir. The Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) National Park was designated by law in 1928 and protected as a national shrine.
A general assembly (parliament?) began here about 930 and continued until 1798.
Thingvellir is one of the partner sites in the Thing Project – a move to coordinate the documentation and history of viking or norse ‘assembly’ sites – Thing sites – in North West Europe. Partners in Britain include organisations and sites in Shetland, Orkney and Highland Region at Dingwall.
All images copyright of Michael Munson and Kirsten Buchholz. Additional material by GS.
The Icelandic Met Office give a month-by-month account of the Holuhraun eruption at en.vedur.is. The eruption was declared to have ended in early March 2015.
A sampler of images by Kirsten Buchholz taken on a visit to Iceland in January 2015. More to follow.