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; vedur.is).

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, vedur.is).

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, vedur.is).

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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Dust storm 24 and 23 April 2017

Cold, dry and sunny weather in the south in Spring, with strong winds these days. Can only mean one thing, dust storm activity on the south coast of Iceland.


Modis image from 24 April 2017 at 12:50 (image courtesy of NASA MODIS/Rapidfire).

Wind speed at Skarðsfjöruviti over 9 m/s around noon, and over 15 m/s at Stórhöfði, Vestmannaeyjar.


Skarðsfjöruviti (image from IMO, vedur.is).


Stórhöfði (image from IMO, vedur.is).

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Particulate matter during New Year’s Eve 2016/17

The weather was very good during New Years, calm winds, clear skies and cold.

Therefore, PM10 concentration was expected to reach high values, and it did.

At Grensás, close to downtown Reykjavik, the concentration reached maximum at 01:30, reaching almost 2500 µg/m³. The concentration in the Family-and petting zoo, nearby but with more vegetation and further from apartments, the concentration followed the same pattern, but with lower values. At 01:30 the maximum there reached 1500 µg/m³.


The 24-hour average for 1 January 2017 at GRE was about 160 µg/m³, three times the health limit.

More about the PM during New Year’s Eve in Icelandic: “Svifryks­meng­un langt yfir heilsu­vernd­ar­mörk­um

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Dust storms north of Vatnajökull 27&28 October 2016

Dust storms occurred, and were visible, on 27 and 28 October 2016.


MODIS image from 28 October 2016 at 13:00.

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