Two PhD positions – Anthropogenic impacts on lakes in Iceland – deadline 15 June 2022

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland seeks applicants to fill two Ph.D. student positions for three years for the project: Anthropogenic impacts on lakes in Iceland.

The students will work together on a couple of short lake-sediment cores and perform some standard analyses.

One PhD student will focus on tephrochronology and microplastics analysis (link).

One PhD student will focus on 210Pb and 137Cs dating and chironomid head capsule analysis (link).

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New article: Increased respiratory morbidity associated with exposure to a mature volcanic plume from a large Icelandic fissure eruption

Mature volcanic plumes can go undetected when monitoring for SO2, but SO42- in the mature plume can cause health problems. This was seen following the Holuhraun eruption in Iceland 2014-15, where exposure to the mature plume is associated with an increase in register-measured health care utilization for respiratory disease by 23% (95% CI 19.7–27.4%) and for asthma medication dispensing by 19.3% (95% CI 9.6–29.1%).

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MS project – Road dust

Information at

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New article about the “Influence of Weather Conditions on Particulate Matter Suspension following the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Eruption”

Abstract: The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull produced volcanic ash that was mostly deposited to the south and east of the volcano, with the thickest deposits closest to the eruption vents. For months following the eruption there were numerous reports of resuspended volcanic ash made by weather observers on the ground. A saltation sensor (SENSIT) and an optical particle counter (OPC) located on the southern side of Eyjafjallajökull measured posteruptive particulate matter (PM) saltation and suspension events, some of which were also observable by satellite imagery. During the autumn/winter following the eruption, visible satellite images and the SENSIT show that PM measured by the OPC was only detected when winds had a northerly component, making the source on the slopes of Eyjafjallajökull. During the largest observed events, particles >10 μm were suspended but measured in extremely low concentrations (<1 particle per centimeter cubed). The saltation measurements, however, show high concentrations of particles >100 μm in size during these events. During the largest events, winds were at least 5 m s−1 with a relative humidity < 70%. Ground conditions in Iceland change quickly from unfavorable to favorable for the suspension of particles. It is hypothesized that this is due to the porosity of the surface material allowing water to filter through quickly as well as the fast drying time of surface material. The high moisture content of the atmosphere and the ground do not appear to be a deterrent for large PM events to occur in Iceland.

Mary K. Butwin, Sibylle von Löwis, Melissa A. Pfeffer, Pavla Dagsson-Waldhauserova, Johann Thorsson and Throstur Thorsteinsson. 2020.
Influence of Weather Conditions on Particulate Matter Suspension following the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Eruption.
Earth Interact., 24(6): 1–16.

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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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