MS defense Irma Khoirunissa

Irma Khoirunissa defended her master’s project in Environment and Natural Resources, University of Iceland on 1 october 2018. Irma is in Indonesia, so the defense was via Skype.

The project was „AERMOD Modeling of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Concentration from Geothermal Power Plants in Ulubelu, Indonesia, and Hellisheidi-Nesjavellir, Iceland“. Irma did very well and her project was very good.

Irma’s supervising committee was me and Elín Björk Jónasdóttir (IMO).

Examiner was Einar Sveinbjörnsson, who we thank for his good work. He wrote a very nice post on facebook.


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MS defense Cameron Powell

Today, 2 October 2018, Cameron Powell defended his master’s thesis from the faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland. His advisors were Throstur and Sara Barsotti (IMO).

His project „Modeling volcanic ash re-suspension dynamics: the Eyjafjallajökull ash deposit case“. This project is a part of a larger project called AshTime and is funded by Rannís.

Congratulations Cameron with a job well done.

Examiner was Guðrún Nína Petersen (IMO), many thanks.

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New article “Accessibility of protected areas and visitor behaviour: A case study from Iceland”

Recently published is the article Accessibility of protected areas and visitor behaviour: A case study from Iceland í Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Volume 24, December 2018, Pages 1-10 (

The article is based on the work done by EditaTverijonaite during her master’s, who is the first author. Supervisors and co-authers are Rannveig Ólafsdóttir and Throstur Thorsteinsson.


In countries facing rapid growth in nature-based tourism, increasing use of protected areas for recreational purposes creates a demand for improved infrastructure and accessibility. However, increased infrastructure, such as road improvements, is likely to alter the natural environment and visitors’ experience, and may ultimately change the type of tourism which operates in given areas. This study aims to assess how the accessibility of protected areas affects visitor perceptions, satisfaction, preferences, and subsequently visitor behaviour. Furthermore, it aims to compare perceived environmental impacts of visitors at sites with different levels of accessibility. To this end, an on-site visitor survey was conducted at five sites within protected areas in Iceland, each with different level of accessibility. The Purism Scale model was applied to categorize visitors based on their preferences. The results show that the majority of visitors at all five study sites fall into one of two categories – neutralists and urbanists – implying that the type of tourism operated in Iceland is changing as a result of continuous tourism development, and that improved accessibility to previously remote nature destinations accelerates these changes. Improved accessibility thus facilitates the use of protected areas, which leads to a higher level of perceived crowding. Tourists tend to spend less time in easily accessible areas and rarely choose such areas as the venue for an overnight stay. Moreover, improved accessibility increases the demand for the development of further infrastructure needed to cope with the environmental pressure from tourism. The processes relating to improved accessibility observed in this study emphasize the importance of preserving particular nature destinations in an undeveloped state in order to provide a wide range of recreational opportunities for local people as well as for foreign visitors.

Management implications

Accessibility of a natural area is an important factor affecting tourism development and a critical management tool to control the area’s future state. The following management implications are drawn from this study:

Accessibility is one of the most critical variables in the planning of tourism development in nature destinations.

Improved accessibility to protected areas will increase the demand for further infrastructure development to meet the needs of a higher number of tourists visiting the area and to cope with their environmental pressure.

Improved accessibility leads to changes in visitor behaviour and subsequently the type of tourism operated in protected natural areas.

It is fundamental for planners and decision makers to recognize these processes in order to ensure the most sustainable and environmentally sound tourism development.

Accessibility improvements to protected natural areas should be planned in line with the goals of nature conservation and tourism development.

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Dust storm in Reykjavik (29 May 2018)

Dry and windy conditions today (after a long period of rain).


Figure 1. The weather condition at 13 today for south (west) coast. Windy and dry, wind direction  pointing towards Reykjavik (map from the IMO web site;

It is possible, with good will, to see the plume going towards Reykjavik in the figure below.


Figure 2. MODIS image from 29 May 2018, showing Landeyjasandur area source and plume heading towards Reykjavik around 13.

Measurements of PM10 at GRE and FHG stations in Reykjavik show this nicely.


Figure 3. PM10 (µg/m3; 30-min average values) measurements at GRE and FHG stations in Reykjavik (data from UST).

Interestingly, other PM stations in the greater Reykjavik area don’t show this. Which probably fits, since this most likely is a narrow plume, and constrained by Esja mountain to the north of the city.

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Sunny and windy days – dust blowing from south coast

Nice sunny days with strong northerly winds (over 10 m/s) the last couple of days. See weather data (Figure 1), and satellite images from 3 March (Figure 2) and 5 March (Figures 3 and 4).

Figure 1. Wind speed and gusts at Þykkvabær (south coast; data from the IMO,

Sentinel-2 image on 2018-03-03.jpgFigure 2. Sentinel image from 3 March 2018.

Sentinel-2 image on 2018-03-05.jpgFigure 3. Sentinel image from 5 March 2018 (ESA).
20180305_MODIS_earthdata_nasa_gov.jpgFigure 4. MODIS image from 5 March 2018 (MODIS NASA image).


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Nice calm weather finally, but high pollution levels

Very calm and nice weather today, 28 February 2018, finally many would say (Figure 1). Hardly any wind and the streets drying up quickly.

Figure 1. Windspeed and gusts in Reykjavik on 28 February 2018 (graph from IMO; Veðurstofa Íslands,

Unfortunately this type of weather is also one in which we can expect high levels of pollution (from traffic here in Reykjavik). The forecast is for even “worse” weather in that regard, calm winds, colder temperatures. We might see temperature inversion, and then even higher concentration of pollutants.

The particulate matter (PM10) concentration got very high around noon today, for instance at Grensas station (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Concentration of PM10 and NO2 at Grensasvegur on 28 February 2018. Very high levels around noon, and actually since 8 AM this morning.

The pollution was clearly visible when look to the ocean from Lagafellskirkja (view towards Reykjavik) around 13 today (Figure 3). Perhaps isn’t so clear in the photo, but to the naked eye it was very clear.

Figure 3. View form Lágafellskirkju at 13 today. Near the horizon you can see a yellow band.

The forecast is bad regarding air quality the next few days. On the radio I heard though that the city of Reykjavik and the Road Authority plan to sweep some streets tonight, and possibly do some dust binding later if this proves ineffective. It will be interesting to follow the pollution levels in the coming days.

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Particulate Matter explosion: New Year’s Eve 2017/18

Calm and quit weather for the New Year’s Eve, which also means that the particulate matter (PM) pollution was extreme. Almost completely calm around midnight in Reykjavik as can be seen from the measurements from the IMO below.


Windspeed and gusts in Reykjavík (figure from IMO).

It is clear how calm it was around the New Year’s, and actually there isn’t much wind in this graph; y-axis maximum is 5 m/s.

It was therefore expected that PM concentration would be quite high.

First measurements are from a station in Reykjavik, Grensás. There the maximum values were around 2500 µg/m3; which is similar to the maximum values for New Year’s when the conditions are similar.


Measurements at Grensás on New Year’s Day 2018.

Another station in Kópavogi, measured even higher values. There the maximum values were 4500 µg/m3, which is very high. Also it is interesting to see that the fine PM, PM2.5, is very high. PM2.5 goes over 3400 µg/m3. It is thus 75% of the PM, which is bad for the health (plus the composition of this type of pollution).


Measurements at Dalsmára in Kópavogi on 1 January 2018.


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