Number of cases and deaths due to Covid-19 globally

14 Sep 2020

The number of cases is now about 29 million and is expected to reach 30 millions in about 4 days given the behaviour the past few weeks (see below; around 18 September).

The number of deaths is now about 924 thousand and is expected to reach 1 million in about 13 days (around 27 September).

Cumulative number of deaths since 1 July 2020. Each day about 5715 deaths occur.
Cumulative number of cases since 1 July 2020. Each day about 252 thousand cases are added
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Update on COVID-19 global and Iceland numbers

Slight change in reporting from ECDC.

Deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants (ECDC data from 2020-03-17).

Deaths: China 3226, Italy 2158, Iran 853, Spain 309, France 148 (ECDC 2020-03-17)

Cases per 100 thousand inhabitants (ECDC 2020-03-17).
Cases in Iceland (ECDC 2020-03-17).
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Bit of data for COVID-19

Using information from ECDC, here are a few plots showing the number of deaths and cases (highest numbers and per 100 thousand inhabitants), and cases in Iceland.

First is the number of reported deaths. China (3217) has the most deaths, but it is alarming to see how many deaths there are in Italy (1811).

Number of reported deaths per country (over 10 cases) as of 2020-03-16.

The list changes a bit if we look at this as number of deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants. San Marino (population around 34 thousand) has the highest, then Italy and Spain.

Reported (ECDC) deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants as of 2020-03-16 (population data for 2018).

For reported cases Iceland follows San Marino, as has been pointed out by the Icelandic authorities this statistic is mostly an indication of how many are tested, not how many are infected.

Reported cases per 100 thousand inhabitants as of 2020-03-16.

And in Iceland the number has been increasing, but concentrated efforts to slow the spreading seem to have worked quite well.

Reported (ECDC) cases in Iceland as of 2020-03-16. Blue columns cumulative sum of cases and red dots are the daily number of new cases.

Please note that there can be errors (although I hope not). Based on ECDC data available on the internet.

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MS student opportunity

Black carbon, dust and plastic particles in snow and ice

This student opportunity is a collaborative research project between the University of Iceland (UI), the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), and Landsvirkjun (LV).

The overall aim of this research project is to study the distribution and concentration of black carbon (BC), organic carbon (OC), dust and plastic particles in snow and ice on Icelandic glaciers. This will allow for better modeling of potential impact of those pollutants on glaciers and knowledge about their sources.

This MS project is funded for 4-5 months as a summer employee at Landsvirkjun. This grant is most suitable for students that are finishing their required course work at the University of Iceland and need a project. New students can though apply and work on this project along with coursework.

For more information, and how to apply,

For more information, please e-mail Throstur (thorstur@hi.is

Deadline for applications is 15 December 2019.

Sincerely, Throstur

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Dust storm on dry and very windy day

24 October 2019

Very strong winds all around the south coast today. Wind direction directly from the north, and very dry air. Humidity even below 70% at Stórhöfði (data from IMO;

Figure 1. Wind speed at Kirkjubæjarklaustur (data from IMO;
Figure 2. Humidity at Kirkjubæjarklaustur (data from IMO;

Quite similar at Stórhöfði, Vestmannaeyjar.


Figure 3. Wind speed and humidity at Stórhöfði (data from IMO;

Modis images from 13:15 today, 24 October 2019  (NASA/WorldView).


Figure 4. MODIS images from 13:15 on 24 October 2019 (NASA/WorldView).

23 October 2019

There was a bit of activity yesterday, 23 October, also.

Figure 5. 12:35 MODIS (NASA/WorldView).

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Found the smoking „sandur“

Today the PM10 levels shot up in Reykjavik (northern part), without clear connection to traffic.


Looking at satellite data, and wind speed and direction, it is clear that the source is a dust storm from Landeyjasandur.


MODIS image from 10 April 2019 (NASA Earthview).

The dust plume dissapears beneath the clouds as it approached the city of Reykjavik (top left of figure).

The wind speed and direction support this also near the dust source area.


Map from the IMO ( showing the wind speed and direction around 16:00 today (10 April 2019).

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New article about the influence of eruptions on dust storm events

New article looking at the impact of eruptions on “dust storm” frequency. Dust storm in parenthesis because one of the main questions was how long after an eruption ash storms were obvious. Turns out that with all the activity we have in Iceland the volcanic signal quickly fades into the general dust activity.
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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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