Yellow alert for extreme weather – April visit at Sudurnes and Reykjanes Geopark, Iceland

Figure of yellow alert for weather in Iceland by the Icelandic Met Office.
It is now the third storm in a row, told my EU-Interact-BLACK project host Hanna María Kristjánsdóttir, Director of the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center (SSLC) in Iceland.
Sudurnes Science and Learning Center director Hanna María Kristjánsdóttir.
But this is unusual April weather. Today we have yellow alert for extreme weather in many (most) parts of Iceland. People are adviced to stay indoors.
In addition to the national weather forecast at it is wise to check info for safe travel at and road conditions and weather at

Sandgerdi pond at the Reykjanes peninsula

Photo. Sangerdi pond life as presented in the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center exhibition.

Before the storm started I sampled two nearby ponds. There are several ponds in the northern coastline of the Reykjanes peninsula. They are due to ground water river and its springs, i.e., water bursting to the surface from below ground. As they originate from ground water source, they can provide some information on BC in groundwater, too. Of course the water contains deposited BC, too. Due to the hard winds during the recent storms we can assume the water to be well mixed at the time of sampling.

Sea water and drinking water at Sudurnes

The Sudurnes SSLC (location: blue circle in the map above) is located in the coast of the Reykjanes peninsula.

SSLC provided me with sea water and drinking water samples, too. For drinking water, I really do not expect any BC to be found. Actually I have previously analyzed Reykjavik drinking water and it had no BC. The tab water here in Iceland tastes so good, too. For sea water we shall see! It is an open question. You will find that information later here, after the samples have been analyzed in the laboratory, in Finland.

Hence, despite the storm, I could sample and filter a lot of various types of water samples!

One of the scientists at SSLC, Joana Micael, told that she has studied Ciona intestinalis (also known as vase tunicate) as an invasive species capable to grow in the harsh Icelandic climate conditions. Amazingly tough! Unfortunately they are harmful to Iceland’s ecology.

Reykjanes geopark

Reykjanes Peninsula is an UNESCO Global Geopark. It is said that there the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises above sea level, but I have not seen that place, at least not yet. If the weather permits, lake water and hot spring samples would be the next goal. More information about the Geopark is here:

The aim was to sample snow and water in February during cold season and water in April after snow melt season to study their Black Carbon contents. If we find BC in our winter samples of snow, we are interested in knowing where BC can be detected after snow melt.

Photos: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland

New TA User Groups prepare to summer field season

Spring is in full speed here at INTERACT TA Coordination office, as well are the preparations for the approaching summer field season.

The next months will see a record number of user groups conducting research with support from INTERACT Transnational Access -we have a whopping 61 user groups are currently preparing for their Transnational Access visits to 33 INTERACT stations in the northernmost Europe, North-America, Svalbard, Greenland and Russian Federation, as well as to stations located in north-atlantic, northern alpine and boreal forest regions.







The topics of the newly selected TA projects represent various fields of science, ranging from ecosystems and biodiversity to biogeochemical cycling and human dimension. A listing of the projects selected for Transnational Access in s/s 2019 and a/w 2019-20 will be available on the INTERACT website in May.  Detailed project descriptions will be added along the summer field season. You will also be able to follow some of the scientists during their field work from the INTERACT Arctic Research Blogs and from our Instagram account @EU-INTERACT.

Transnational Access is offered to 43 research stations in INTERACT network in 2016-2020, so there will still be plenty of opportunities available for research when the next TA Call opens in Aug-Sept 2019!

Field report from ECN Cairngorm, Scotland: the coldest and snowiest plateaux of UK

This post welcomes you to share my experiences on research field work at ECN Cairngorm and elsewhere in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK.

ECN Cairngorm, Scotland, in March 2019. ECN refers to the UK Environmental Change Network, which is UK’s long-term environmental monitoring and research programme. The ECN Cairngorm site is owned by the Scottish Natural Heritage, managed by the Center of Ecology and Hydrology, and has been the subject of intensive hydrological and snow related research. (For more info:

Cairngorms is the name of the mountain region and of the national park. The national park is a huge area with also many villages inside it. In this arctic-alpine mountain environment snow can fall any month of the year. Cairngorms is not only the place of the lowest recorded British temperature (-27.2 °C) but also the greatest wind speed, too. The Cairngorms Mountains within the ECN catchment (57°07’ N, 03°49’ W) rise above the treeline of 650 m with the highest peak of 1309 m. They are part of the Cairngorm National Park.

This sampling in the Scottish Highlands of the EU-Interact-BLACK project was planned with detailed maps well in advance, thanks to the kind help of my EU-Interact host Christopher Andrews. These maps really were a friendly and welcomed help! We then met directly in the field of the ECN Cairngorm site to find spring water, streams and snow there. It would have not been possible to find all these without his expertise of the area. The area has its challenges, too, including streams to be crossed over. 

Cairngorms and snow?

This photo of snow was taken inside ECN Cairngorm in March 2019. From far distance it appeared that there is hardly any snow, but when you climbed more up to the mountain, you got enough snow for a good sample.

Most important for a visitor is to realize that the weather can change suddenly and that a snowfall today can last either long or be melted rapidly. This was exactly what we  experienced: when planning the field work with the help of Chris, the snow statistics showed that end of March is a good option for sampling snow; it might be still non-melting cold snow or could be melting snow. This year, however, a record breaking warm February melted practically all snow. Thereafter the winter was not over, but a new snowfall introduced snow again (“turning the environment into a white winter wonderland”) and that new snow (melting during the time of this visit) we were able to sample. And new snow is expected soon again, at the very end of March.


Two additional challenges

In addition to finding snow, there were some other challenges, too. The first one was definately the left handed traffic. You have to keep really focused all the time in the traffic whether walking, driving or cycling. Secondly, the original BREXIT day was during my UK visit. Nobody knew how it would affect. Luckily the schedule was changed!

Biggest surprises?

What was most surprising? Perhaps to see an eagle in the sky (a Golden Eagle*, according to Chris), and to learn that the big mammal predators of wolf and bear are totally missing here in Cairngorms!

*Golden eagle

Length: 76-90cm Wingspan: 2.1m Weight: 3.7-5.3kg Average Lifespan: 23 years

Status: Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.

Distribution: A rare bird of the mountains and moorlands of Scotland

How to reach Cairngorms?

To reach Cairngorms, I took the train from Edinburgh Waverley to Aviemore. The journey took less than three hours and was quite easy and confortable. On the way I saw a big change in the environment, as the green sunny fields turned into more winterly and cloudy hills with snow on the top of them. What a difference in less than 3 hours!


As a summary, the samples gained at the ECN Cairngorm site, and elsewhere around the Cairngorms National Park, represented snow, spring water, stream water, water of the River Spey and lake water. Meaning a really good variability of different types of samples.

Photos: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland.

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 filter samples of snow, ice and water will be chemically analyzed for their Black Carbon, organic carbon and dust contents at the laboratory of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The BLACK blog url is



Report from the field: Sampling water and snow in the Faroe Islands (62 deg North) in March


The field research of the EU-Interact-BLACK-project in Faroes, in FINI and around, takes place in March 2019 by me and my colleague Laura Thölix, FMI. Our aim is to collect samples on snow, natural water and drinking water, for filtering and chemical analysis of black carbon, organic carbon and dust.

Photos: Laura Thölix and Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Extremes of Iceland – Preparing for field work 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,, 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.


Season’s Greetings

It’s the final week before Christmas, and things are starting to slow down after a busy autumn. Most of the time in November was spent in handling the TA application and evaluation process, and updating the budget for the INTERACT TA supported field work in 2019.

Moving further in the stages of the TA application and selection process, the INTERACT TA Selection Panel met week ago in Poland. As a result of their intensive work on the evaluations and in -depth discussions on every single one of the nearly 120 TA/RA applications, the TA recommendations have now been made. The recommendations are forwarded to the stations, who will make the final decisions on the projects that will be granted access to conduct research at their premises. The decisions will be announced to the applicants by mid-February, and the successful projects can start preparing to the field work after that.

Now it’s time to start the much-needed holidays, and return back to the office in early January to continue the work in 2019!

Happy Holidays!



Summer season wrap-up

Here in Finland winter is approaching fast, and we already got the first snow last week. It melted away fast, but from the quickly darkening days and dropping temperatures it’s easy to tell the winter is just around the corner. This also means that the summer field season is coming to an end for this year, and most of our TA User Groups from last summer have already submitted their project reports. Also, the TA/RA project descriptions  are now available on-line for you to see.

The season is also wrapping up here at Arctic Research Blogs. For the summer, we had eight different but equally fantastic blogs by our TA Users that I would like to highlight to you now. Take a look at their blogs if you have not done that already!

Yael Teff-Seker took us on a virtual walk and shared her experiences at Hyytiälä Forest Research Station in Finland and ECN CAIRNGORMS in Scotland in blog “Walking and Talking in the Sub-Arctic: assessing cultural ecosystem services in Western Finland and Cairngorms”.

Photo by Yael Teff-Seker from the blog “Walking and Talking in the Sub-Arctic: assessing cultural ecosystem services in Western Finland and Cairngorms”











Outi Meinander’s blog Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands (BLACK) introduced the followers to the tales and excitement from the fieldwork in Faroes, Iceland and Scotland, on aerosols in snow and ice, and more!

Alice Eldridge, Jonathan Carruthers-Jones, and Roger Norum were blogging from Abisko Scintific Research Station in Sweden, and sharing their adventures in the north in “WILDSENS: Mapping the Wild”.

The blog Rough Ice by Joshua Chambers, Tom Smith and Mark Smith visiting Station Hintereis in Austria, was packed not only with cutting-edge science, but also with super entertaining humor and sense of adventure!

Photo by Team GLARE from the blog “Rough Ice”.


Jonas Lembrechts continued his popular blog Plant Invasions in the Subarctic Mountainsfrom Abisko. More stories, pictures and information on all the adventures of this scientist and talented photographer are also available at

Kathryn Adamson -one of our TA Ambassadors– and Timothy Lane continued the story of their arctic science in the blog SEDIGAP – Investigating sediment and meltwater dynamics in an area of Arctic permafrost  by including their experiences from the Villum Research Station in Greenland.

Another of our TA Ambassadors, Allan Buras, continued blogging from the previous field season by sharing the stories and excitement of his fieldwork at Arctic Station in Greenland. Allan’s adventures can be followed in the blog Beyondtreeline.

Photo by Allan Buras from the blog “Beyond treeline”.










The blog by Willem van der Bilt “Glacier-climate fingerprints in the subarctic Atlantic” highlighted the team’s TA visit to Rif Field Station to study the sediments of a glacier-fed lake Skeiðsvatn in northwest Iceland to reveal some of the mechanisms behind the climate change in the North Atlantic area.

Thanks to all our fantastic bloggers for taking us with you on the adventure to the Arctic! More blogs will open up again next spring for the field season 2019. This blog by the TA Administration continues until them, the next time with a report from one of the major Arctic events –the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland!



Taking the pulse of natural Arctic climate change using Iceland lake sediments

All field equipment has been assembled, strapped onto pallets and shipped out. In other words, preparations for our upcoming INTERACT TA adventure in northern Iceland are in full swing. High time for a quick introduction of the GLACTIC team and our field plans.

Where and why

It is no secret that the Arctic is one of the most climatically sensitive parts of our planet, heating up twice as fast as the global average. As ice shrivels away and temperatures soar, this dramatic region response to global warming regularly grab headlines. Less well known is the fact that this amplified response is an intrinsinc feature of the region`s climate system, and thus also enhances the impact of natural variations – including cooling phases. There is ample evidence that the Atlantic Arctic was hit by a series of cold spells over the past 10 000 years. The last of these was called “Little Ice Age” for a reason, and severely impacted societies trying to make ends meet in this already harsh region. It was during this time that the Vikings dissapeared from Greenland.

Similar centennial-scale events are bound to happen again. As they modulate the impact of anthropogenic warming, they need to be taken into account in the projections of future climate that underpin policies and adaptation strategies. And that when things get a bit problematic as the fundamental causes of these Arctic North Atlantic climate excursions remain debated. One major challenge complicates things for researchers that try to answer this important question: records of past climate remain sparse and scarce in this remote region – hindering efforts to assess patterns of change in space and time.

GLACTIC will rise to this challenge by providing an important piece to the Arctic North Atlantic`s climate puzzle. For this purpose, we will rely on lake sediment sequences from norhtern Iceland. This area sits near the interface of key components of the regional climate system – the sea-ice margin, the polar front and the meeting of Arctic with Atlantic waters – and therefore sensitively responds to change. The physical, chemical and biological properties of lake sediments capture and record such changes through time, layer by layer over thousands of years. The GLACTIC team wants to unlock this past climate potential by retrieving sediments from the icy depths of lake Skeiðsvatn.

Figure 1. At the frontline of Arctic climate change – northern Iceland and Skeiðsvatn Iceland maps

To extract as much information from our precious lake sediments, as well as approach research questions from multiple angles, GLACTIC brings together climate researchers from different disciplines:

  • Rick Hennekam from the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, an expert in high-resolution sediment core scanning techniques
  • Timothy Lane from John Moores University in Liverpool, who studies landscape development in glacial environments like Greenland and Iceland
  • Kathryn Adamson from Manchester Metropolitan University, who specializes in in the use of sedimentary records as indicators of environmental change
  • Iestyn Barr from Manchester Metropolitan University, who applies remote-sensing techniques to investigate environmental change in mountainous areas
  • Jostein Bakke from the University of Bergen in Norway, who uses glacier-fed lake sediment records to reconstruct past glacier change
  • Willem van der Bilt from the University of Bergen in Norway, who applies new biogeochemical, sedimentological and chronological tools on polar lake sediments
Why will GLACTIC target Skeiðsvatn – what sets this lake apart from others? And how exactly do you extract sediments from the bottom of an Arctic lake? Stay tuned for our next blog! 



Transnational Access call is open!

It’s again that time of the year when the call for INTERACT Transnational and Remote Access opens up. This time, the call is open until 13th October. Same as before, the call for physical TA is open to 43 research infrastructures and the call for RA (remote access) is open to 18 infrastructures, located in Europe, Russia and North-America. The call is for access taking place between March 2019 and April 2020.

The selection of user groups for TA and RA is based on a scientific merit and novelty of the research, but taking into account that priority should be given to user groups who:

  • Have not previously used the installation
  • Are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exists
  • Apply working at more than one location for generating comparative studies
  • To early career scientists (≤ 5 years from a PhD degree) **
  • In their application take into account the specific call priority area, which is introducing new or enhancing the existing activities within networks to INTERACT stations (e.g. ITEX, CALM). A detailed listing of different networks supported and/or participated at the INTERACT Stations can be found from the INTERACT Research and Monitoring Report.

In order to answer possible questions about the ongoing call and about TA and RA in general, we will arrange an on-line webinar on 11th September at 15:00 CEST. You can find call details and a link to join the webinar from here.

Apply INTERACT Transnational Access to conduct research at the coolest places of the North!

Welcome to join the Arctic Research Blog of Black and Snowy Stories from the Faroes, 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:



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