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



This is Arctic – Almost 80 % of the Faroe Islands has Arctic climate

Photo: On the mountain Slættaratindur, the highest mountain of the Faroes.

Did you know that there is no standard definition for Arctic? Almost 80 % of the Faroese area is in the regime of an Arctic climate, defined as mean monthly temperature below 10 deg Celsius for the warmest month. In the Faroes it means appr. the altitude of 200 m.

The most often used definitions for Arctic are (they refer to slightly different geographical areas, so don’t get confused to find trees north of the Arctic Circle):

  • The area north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33’N). This is also approximately the southern limit of the midnight sun and the polar night.
  • The 10 °C July isotherm, i.e., the area where the average temperature for the warmest month (July) is below 10 °C (50 °F)
  • The northernmost Arctic tree line boundary where trees can grow, which roughly follows the 10 °C isotherm.

Our experiences of the Arctic Faroes in March

We have now visited five of the 18 Faroese islands and walked along three of the most famous hiking routes while sampling water, snow and ice for chemical analysis of Black Carbon, Organic Carbon and dust. We also climbed to the highest mountain of the Faroes.

What about the weather?

We really had much better weather than expected on the basis of any statistics. Also, the closeby low pressures decided to go elsewhere. Lucky us! Most of the rain during our visit came at night. We also had some rain during daytime, but mostly these were slight showers only. Yet, the ground was quite wet (plus snow in the mountains) and waterproof winter hiking shoes were definately needed. Rubber boots would have been too slippery. This time of the year water really seems to be everywhere. You will experience it as rain or snow on you, as wet land under your feet, as natural streams almost every ten meters and as amazing water falls.

Visiting Torshavn FINI Office and meeting Lis

The FINI Office in Torshavn. The Faroe Islands Nature Investigation (FINI) belongs to Jarðfeingi (Faroese Earth and Energy Directorate) and partners.

The first morning (Day2, the next day after our first hike and first water, and actually our first snow sample, too) we visited the FINI Office in Torshavn to discuss more about our sampling plan face to face with our EU-Interact host Lis Mortensen. And it was a great discussion and we decided to go hiking together with Lis to get snow samples safely from the highest mountain of the Faroes and to find some permission-needed water samples. Super!

Walking in Torshavn

After the morning planning we headed walking for lunch to Torshavn. And it is such a lovely town! Here are some photos.

Hiking in the island of Nolsoy to get a water sample of a stream

There is a small island of Nolsoy just in front of Torshavn. You can reach it easily with a ferry and as there are practically no roads in Nolsoy, there is no need to take a car there. We took the morning ferry and hiked along the grassy and wet hiking route of the island.

You know you are on the route when you find the signs along it. Our stream sample was from a place with a sign, of course! At this time of the year no cafe or restaurant was open while we were in the island. Luckily the one and only shop of the island was open and we got a hot cacao after our many hours hike and while waiting for the return ferry.

Slættaratindur – Hiking in the highest mountain of the Faroes

Slættaratindur (Flat summit) is the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands at 882 meters above sea level. We (Lis, Outi and Laura) climbed together along the hiking route in order to get snow samples from various altitudes. It was hard work in winter conditions with up to 50 cm of snow.

In the summer this is a nice hike and takes like 2 hours to the top and down. But in winter conditions you should not try it without proper preparations and experience. Even for an experienced person the hike to summit and down can take 8 hours, as told here by one climber: We decided not to go all the way to the top as originally planned. The views from our highest elevation reached were magnificent and we were also pleased with that spot for snow sampling.

More Faroese stories can be found at the National Museum of the Faroes

The last visits we made in the Faroes were to the National Museum of the Faroes and to see the biggest viking rhyme stone found in the islands. You can read more about the museum here:

Our sixteen Faroese filter samples of snow, ice and water

These 16 filter samples of snow and ice and water were the outcome of our visit and contain the story of our Faroes experiences as told in this Arctic research blog.

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

Photos: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute.



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.

Subarctic-Arctic Iceland: Snow, ice and water for chemical analysis of Black Carbon and volcanic dust

The average temperature of the warmest month (July) exceeds 10°C in the lowlands of southern and western Iceland, but is below that in other parts of the country. This makes the larger part of Iceland belonging to the arctic climate zone. 

Sampling snow, ice and water in February in Iceland definately requires the right attitude. It is icy and slippery everywhere (and often very windy too!) and the best shoes for sampling come with spikes.

The spikes can be really big like the ones above, in the crampons made for blue ice glacier walking (those were the ones we actually used during this EU-Interact-BLACK project glacier sampling) or smaller ones like in the figure below, where the spikes are attached permanently to the shoe. This kind of spike shoes are commonly sold and used in Finland and they are most useful for everyday walking outdoors during the icy and slippery times of the year.

Photo. Shoes with spikes are commonly sold and used in Finland.

For the first glacier visit to Solheimasjokull, we had truly an international group of scientists. We were Zongbo Shi, Jill Bachelder, Isatis Cintron, Pavla Dagsson- Waldhauserová and me from UK, Canada, USA/Austria, Czech/Iceland, and Finland. From the EU-Interact-BLACK team members, Pavla Dagsson-Waldhauserová and me (many many thanks Pavla!) continued also further to Vatnajokull together with Isatis, who was the key person to arrange our campaign there! Many thanks to Isatis for this wonderful campaign! These all glacier visits were truly amazing and we had really good luck with the perfect weather, too. These samples I then took with me to the Sudurnes center and melted and filtered them there. Here below some photos for you to share some of our glacier experiences.

Photo. Up in the Vatnajokull glacier. Photos. Solheimajokull glacier.

In addition to glaciers, the sampling included sampling of drinking water and natural water, as well as seasonal surface snow for the analysis of black carbon, organic carbon and dust contents. Hence, all the planned types of different samples were successfully collected for February 2019, to represent winter concentrations of impurities.

Photos. Sudurnes Center and some of the sampling places around it. The sea around Iceland is open.

Hence, the Iceland visit was both successful and amazing, but sometimes very very windy and with worse winter road conditions! Check the maps here below. The weather maps are available at the web pages of the Icelandic Met Office at and I studied them first in the mornings when starting planning the day, and especially I checked the winds. The road maps are at

Figure. The weather forecast map for 20 Feb 2019 at 6 am GMT, produced by the Icelandic Met Office. The red arrows indicate very strong winds.

Figure. Yellow alert for weather in Iceland for strong gales on 20 Feb, by the Icelandic Met Office. You can find their mobile app by typing “vedur”.

Figure. The road conditions can be found at The best way to get information about road conditions and the weather on the road system is to call 1777 (if problems use +354 522 1100). Open 8-16 in summer and 6:30-22 in winter.    

Figure. The symbols used for the road conditions at Many roads are closed the whole winter and driving is prohibited.

Now back in Finland, thank you Iceland and I want to thank all the wonderful people who were together with me in the field, as well as the great people of Sudurnes Science and Learning Center. It was great meeting you all and especially the one true Icelandic, the smiling and friendly Iceland sheep dog, in photo here below!

Photo. The smiling Icelandic sheep dog I got to meet at Sudurnes.

Photos and video: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland

February under the blue sky of Iceland – Field report from the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center

Snow covers the Solheimajökull glacier and -surprise- its frozen melt lake, February 2019. Last time I saw the lake in winter time, it was not frozen. Surface snow and ice samples, as well as natural water samples, collected in the field in Iceland, will be filtered at the laboratory of the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center.

Today I arrived to the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center at the Reykjanes Peninsula, for the EU-Interact-BLACK -project. The director of the Center, Hanna María Kristjánsdóttir, was right welcoming me and showing around the great lab facilities. This was super, especially as I already had snow and ice samples with me when arriving and needed a place for them, to melt and filter them in the Center’s lab (photos below).

Surface snow and ice sampled have found their way to the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center laboratory! Next they are to be fully melted and thereafter filtered for the chemical analysis.

The chemical analysis I will make with the OC/EC thermo-optical analyzer of the Finnish Meteorological Institute back in Finland. Hence, my samples from Iceland to Finland will be easy-to-carry along filter-samples.

The sampling itself would require more space to tell, so I will continue more about it in my next post. Here below still some photos for you to get a better idea of the Sudurnes Center. I absolutely love the inside and outside of the house and its surroundibgs, even though it is now winter time and cold and quite windy. In summer it will be open for visitors, too.

The Sudurnes Science and Learning Center is a scientific research facility in the Sudurnes region.

This lighthouse is close to the Sudurnes Learning and Science Center.

Photos: 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!



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