Extremes of Iceland – Preparing for field work in Iceland in February by burning filters at 800 degrees Celsius

Photo: The filtration system ready for laboratory work at the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, Iceland, after field sampling.

It is just amazing how much preparations are needed right before the field work can take place! Iceland will be the first place for us to start this winter-season’s field work. But, we did start a new measurement setup for BC deposition in snow here in Helsinki Kumpula this week, too, at the SMEARIII station, https://www.atm.helsinki.fi/SMEAR/index.php/smear-iii, and it was by a fortunate co-incidence that I started talking with my colleaque Mika Vestenius in the lunch table and thanks to him here we are!

This week, one week before going to field and working on the  impurities on snow and water, preparing for field work means pre-burning sample filters, collecting together all the laboratory stuff needed, and planning more detailed about the sampling and the program during the visit… and there will be a lot of going on during the visit, but about that you can read more later in my separate BLACK-blog’s posting on Iceland visit.

So, this week I have pre-burned filters at 800 degrees Celsius for 4 hours! From that, I took an image to show you what it means in practice. Here you go:

Photo: The filters are preburned in an oven at temperature of 800 degrees Celsius for 4 hours at a time.

In addition, here in Finland many Finns have been occupied with snow and ice although not related to field work preparations. We really have a lot of snow in the capital area of Helsinki this year! And many of us have enjoyed skiing, and clearing snow, too… but now back to sampling…

Why do we need filters in the field work?

Filters are needed after the snow or water sample has been collected and snow melted, the water sample is filtered using a filtration system. The filters  look like this:

Photo: These are the pre-burned filters, one with a sample filtered through and the other, white ones, waiting the action to start in Iceland.

How to prepare to Iceland in February?

My Icelandic host Hanna María Kristjánsdóttir,Director of  the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, Iceland, has warmly welcomed me and confirmed the stay. Many thanks! Can not wait to meet you all there in Iceland!

In Iceland, the winter weather can be very windy and snowy, depending on the location you are. And it can even happen in Reykjavik, as it was the case on 26 Feb. 2017.

About the new record of 51 cm of snow in Reykjavik on 26 Febr 2017

It really was a fortunate co-incident in 2017, that I was part of an international snow measurement campaign (planned way in advance!) in Reykjavik at the time of this record event. The new February snow depth record measured for Reyjavik was 51 cm. This caused a lot of trouble for the traffic. For us it meant that we had excellent conditions for our international comparison of snow depth and snow water equivalent measurement devices. We were researchers from 10 European countries and USA.

Unexpected wintertime packing list includes a swimming suit for Iceland in February

Nevertheless, after the snowy and windy winter-time field work you will have use for a bathing suit to visit an outdoor hot spring or a swimming pool! An amazing thing to do on a winter day, and possible also in February! It is a must at least once during one winter time snowy field work period!

Photos: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute.



Snow and the Faroes – Preparing for field work in March in FINI (62°N)

Checklist for planning the field work: snow in Cairngorms and in the magical world of Hogwarts, somewhere in Scotland

In Harry Potter, snow shaped the magical world of Hogwarts, somewhere in Scotland.

So, you might already know that there really is snow in Scotland. Actually, Cairngorms, a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland,  is one of the longest recorded snow sites in the UK http://data.ecn.ac.uk/sites/ecnsites.asp?site=T12. And it gets even more amazing: each week a digital photo of Cairngorms ECN (Environmental Change Network), in the Allt a’Mharcaidh catchment, Cairngorms National Park, is taken and kept in an archive as a record of conditions at the site! This is my starting point for searching for the best snowy period to visit.


Using a data base for publications, I was able to find this highly relevant publication of Andrews et al. (2016): https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/wea.2731. From their Figure 2, I can roughly estimate that during all the 13 years, the onset of continuous snow cover during the early winter  has started between days 275-360 of the year (in 2018, 2 Oct – 26 Dec) and subsequent melt of remnant snow patches in days 100-175 (in 2019,  10 April- 24 June). From this it follows, that regarding the best time for the visit, autumn is totally ruled out as too uncertain to catch snow. Yet, during the spring, any time before 10 April you can assume to find snow.


One more unexpected result came up from their results:  there is evidence of increased snow cover over the past 13 years! What??? Everywhere snow cover is reported to be less… It will be most interesting to learn more about Cairngorms snow during the agreed field visit in late March/early April 2019!


To end with, here is my short checklist for planning a field work visit. By the end of this checklist, it is time to start preparations for field work. Enjoy the planning – well planned is half done!

  1. Check what exactly was granted for you and your team, and what are all the rules related to your visit, from the project and your home and host institutes points of view, and that you have all the necessary permissions.
  2. Update your initial field work plan, including dates (best time to catch your data),  and places and work to be done, i.e., when, where, what and why?
  3. Contact your host to agree on the field visit plan with her/him. Tell what is your up-to-date plan and prepare to change the plan according to your host’s expert view.
  4. Make the necessary bookings within the given budget and agreed plan.
  5. Inform your host about your successful bookings and stay in touch.
  6. Then you can really start preparing for your field work. E.g., order consumables, make a packing list of equipment needed (including a First Aid Kit),  exercise any skills with equipment, make sure to have phone numbers of contacts relevant to fieldwork and for emergencies, etc. Enjoy!

About us #2: our Finnish-Icelandic-Czech-Swedish personal BIO

About us #2 will tell you more about us four, it will be about our personal bio (while About us #1 was the bio of the Black blog).

Summer is here!

Our Finnish-Icelandic-Czech-Swedish BLACK team is very much looking forward to the season 2018-2019 field work in Faroes, Iceland, and Scotland!  Let us introduce you our team, i.e., Outi, Pavla, Laura and Jonas. We all have previous Arctic and cold climate field work experience, and we were briefly introduced in “About Interact Bloggers” .


We are the 4 members of the BLACK project, EU-Interact H2020.  Also we  are:

  • NCoE CRAICC Fellows (Outi, Pavla and Jonas),
  • members of FMI Climate Research Programme (Outi, Laura and Jonas)
  • members of FMI Antarctic Ozone and UV research (Laura and Outi),
  • organizers of the EGU-2018 session on “Atmosphere – Cryosphere interaction with focus on transport, deposition and effects of dust, black carbon, and other aerosols” (Pavla and Outi),
  • members of FMI Aerosols in snow WG (Jonas and Outi),
  • members of EU COST Action in Dust (focus on middle and low latitudes dust, e.g., including Saharan dust) and EU COST Action on SNOW (Action coordinated by FMI Finland) (Pavla and Outi),
  • and much more.

OUR PERSONAL BIO (Outi, Pavla, Laura and Jonas)

OUTI MEINANDER, PhD, blogging from Stations FINI Faroes, SUDURNES Iceland, and ECN CAIRNGORM Scotland UK:

The capital city of Finland, Helsinki, is where I was born, and where I graduated from high school, and from the University, too. But now I live in Espoo, in one of the southern main districts of the city of Espoo, close to the Aalto University, and I work at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Climate Research Programme, Atmospheric Composition Research Unit, Atmospheric Aerosols Group, Aerosols in snow WG, in Helsinki, Finland.

Helsinki, Finland

My previous cool (cold) field work includes Finland and Arctic, in Sodankylä (beyond the Arctic Circle) and in Iceland, and at high altitudes in Sonnblickbasis, Austria, and I have also instrumentation for many years at Marambio Base, Antarctica, as well as had onboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden. Atmospheric radiation and effects of black carbon and Icelandic dust on snow albedo and melt, is the field of science I have most recently specialized in. From the new places to visit, Faroe Islands and Scotland will be totally new experiences for me.

My closest connection to Scotland so far is our Shetland sheepdog (Shetland belongs to Scotland).

Our Shetland Sheep dog Minttu waiting for some action to start.

On the other hand, cold climate work at high altitudes and latitudes, has to get balance from some warmer climate action, like flamenco as a hobby! My other interests include, e.g., making mosaic, meaning decorative simple recycling art works from small pieces of broken ceramics and tiles, colored glass, seashells and stones, and other recycled materials, on old chairs, tables and smaller recycled items, and also on small rocks.  Reading is also one of my favorite pastimes (I have read all the Harry Potter books in Finnish, tried one in English but found it very demanding…), and also dog walking, nature and culture walks, as well as slow cycling, and different types of other sports, just for fun.

Self-made candies on a  mosaic tray made from recycled material.

And now I wonder what Pavla, Laura, and Jonas want to tell about themselves… from this forward it will be their free word input (and I take absolutely no responsibility)… Wishing you a great summer!

PAVLA DAGSSON-WALDHAUSEROVA,  PhD, aerosol scientist from the Agricultural University of Iceland, Reykjavik:

Black deserts of Iceland

Black are the deserts and beaches in Iceland and black is the volcanic ash emitted in recent eruptions in Iceland. Sometimes our glaciers and snow are also black because volcanic dust or ash are distributed over the surfaces. Indeed, Iceland is a perfect outside laboratory to study atmosphere-cryosphere interactions. My most favourite time is up there in the black desert or chasing dust plumes and dust devils with my aerosol instruments.

Our dog Skuggi participated the ADMI2013 campaign – Aerosol Dust Measurements in Iceland 2013,  the first ever aerosol measurements campaign on dust source in Iceland.  By the way – Skuggi means shadow in Icelandic.

Sometimes we send meteorological balloons with the instrument, sometimes we collect dirty snow, but it is mostly the cameras, which bravely monitor the desert surfaces for us. Iceland is not the only High Latitude Dust (HLD) source of my interest. Our instrument travelled also to Antarctic Peninsula to capture strong dust event from local materials as well as material transported from Patagonia. It is also excited to take trip and provide measurements from Svalbard and hopefully also other HLD sources.

I am originally from the Czech Republic where we love to swim in ponds, kayak, and cross-country ski, but Iceland has become my second home since 2008 and I like to try to do my Czech hobbies here as well.

Dust is blowing everywhere…

LAURA THÖLIX, Doctoral candidate at FMI, Climate System Research, specializes in stratospheric modelling and ozone, which controls UV irradiance reaching the ground, and has experience of fieldwork in the Arctic Sodankylä and Utsjoki, Finland

(more to appear after summer holidays…)

JONAS SVENSSON, PhD, FMI Helsinki, Aerosols in snow WG, will also be contributing to filter analysis at the FMI Aerosol Laboratory Facility.

(more to appear after summer holidays…)


The BLACK team will be conducting fieldwork on and around the EU H2020 INTERACT stations of Faroe Islands Nature Investigation FINI, Iceland’s Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, and UK Environmental Change Network’s ECN Cairngorms, Scotland, in season 2018-2019. The BLACK blog url is https://arcticresearch.wordpress.com/category/blogs-from-the-field/black-snowy-stories-of-three-islands-black/

About us #1: BIO of the BLACK blog



Welcome to the BLACK-blog! This is the story behind the blog.

We’re Arctic researchers. We have explored, and have instruments to measure, in the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as in cold climate high-altitude places, and we have published our research results and defended our Thesis, we have given talks and organized meetings, but this will be our first time to blog our Arctic field work.

And we want to help you feel like an explorer, too.

If you’d love to experience the nature of Faroe Islands, as well as Iceland and Scotland, and stories behind,  from a researcher point of view, you will discover it here, in this blog of “Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands by Outi Meinander”. You will also experience the planning and conducting research, and the science questions related to the work on snow and the climatically significant dark particles of black carbon, organic carbon and volcanic dust. The stations we will visit, will include Faroe Islands Nature Investigation FINI, Iceland’s Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, and UK Environmental Change Network’s ECN Cairngorms, Scotland.

This Arctic Research Blog got started thanks to the EU-Interact H2020 project, where the project proposal on “Black Carbon in snow and water (BLACK)” got accepted, and thereafter this blog was a natural follow-up.

This blog is about us sharing our experiences with you! You can follow the “Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands” by either picking your favorite topic only, or you can read the stories in the order they are being posted – both will work just fine!

The BLACK-site’s url is: https://arcticresearch.wordpress.com/category/blogs-from-the-field/black-snowy-stories-of-three-islands-black/

The posts so far include:

  • Welcome to join the Black and Snowy Stories from Faroe, Iceland and Scotland (June 26, 2018)  (and prior to this first post, an INTERACT introduction page of “About INTERACT bloggers”)
  • Here’s why and how we plan to find BLACK particles (June 27, 2018)
  • About us #1: BIO of the BLACK blog (July 4, 2018)
  • About us #2: our personal BIO (to appear next)

If there’s anything  you’d like to hear from us or if you have a question, please feel free to comment, and leave a reply. We hope you’ll find yourself coming here again and again to taste the black and snowy stories of three islands for your inspiration.

Here’s why and how we plan to find BLACK particles

Snow that appears white-to-eye can actually contain tiny black particles in amounts that can be important to climate change. This we have learned from our work on aerosols in snow and ice.  We have found that small  amounts of such particles can induce snow and ice melt, but we have also shown that very large amounts can prevent snow and ice from melting.

This is how it works in smaller amounts: When light-absorbing aerosols, including soot (black carbon, BC), ash, wind-blown dust, and the so called brown-carbon fraction of organic carbon (OC), deposit on snow and ice, they reduce surface reflectivity (albedo) and induce melt of darker surface, which again lowers the albedo and increases melt via a feedback mechanism.  Albedo feedback is one of the mechanisms causing Arctic amplification (AA). Meaning stronger climate change in the polar regions. Pithan and Mauritsen (2014) say in their Nature paper that surface albedo feedback is the second main contributor to AA, right after increased downwelling longwave radiation.

Our BLACK project (2018-2019) focuses on Arctic climate change and investigates BC, OC and dust in the cryosphere and natural water, and drinking water of the three EU H2020 INTERACT stations visited. The collected snow, ice and water samples will be filtered during the visits and we will analyze the filters in the laboratory at my home institute FMI, Finland.

BLACK team will be conducting fieldwork on and around the stations of Faroe Islands Nature Investigation FINI, Iceland’s Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, and UK Environmental Change Network’s ECN Cairngorms, Scotland, in season 2018-2019. ‘Three islands’ thus refers to Streymoy (Strømø) of the Faroes, Iceland, and Great Britain.

BLACK aims at filling geographical gaps in the current BC data collection concerning cold climate regions at high altitudes and high Arctic latitudes, and fulfilling some of the Finland’s chairmanship program goals for the Arctic Council 2017-2019.  BLACK contributes also to an ongoing Academy of Finland NABCEA–consortium project of “Novel Assessment of Black Carbon in the Eurasian Arctic, From Historical Concentrations and Sources to Future Climate Impacts (2016 – 2020)” (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/iasoa/node/206).

Welcome to join the Black and Snowy Stories from Faroe, Iceland and Scotland

Tomorrow I’ll be starting to blog at Arctic Research Blogs, a blog site of INTERACT, an EU H2020 project, along with other scientists conducting research related field work on a wide variety of topics, but all related to the Arctic and northern environment, in season 2018/2019.

Welcome to follow the blog “Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands (BLACK)” and join the tales and excitements of our field season 2018/2019 in Faroe, Iceland and Scotland, on searching for the “as BLACK as it can get” aerosols in snow and ice, and more!

The url will be: https://arcticresearch.wordpress.com/category/blogs-from-the-field/black-snowy-stories-of-three-islands-black/



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