Category Archives: Atmosphere

Engulfed in cold Arctic air

Clear skies and dry cold air comes with air mass from the Arctic.

After a fairly mild February it has in the last ten days  become freezing cold again. We are now in the middle of March so we have already started looking forward to spring. But no such thing in the forecasts. The cold air that engulfs us now comes straight from the North Pole, flooding down the Atlantic between Greenland and Norway, with Iceland in the middle. An air mass like this contains very cold and dry air. In the South of Iceland we have beautiful clear skies with considerable wind and temperatures well below zero. Because of the cold there is hardly a cloud to be seen and the sky is bright and blue. The frost has been between -2°C to -13°C most days. Here in Selfoss it has gone down to -15°C but in the North -25°C. And with the wind it feels much colder.

There has been quite a lot of solar activity lately with the Northern Lights dancing in the sky every night here in the south of Iceland. Since the sky is clear and no clouds conditions for experiencing and enjoying Aurora Borealis have been excellent, not to mention photographing. It is quite a challenge to capture the Northern Lights on camera in -10°C like yesterday evening when it was also windy. After 30 minutes outside your nose and fingers are frozen to the bone but of course it was worth it.

Similar weather is predicted in the coming weeks.

Northern Lights set the sky afire

Northern Lights January 15, 2023

Seldom has the sky been so brightly lit up with Northern Lights than last night. It was ablaze and just like we remember it from when we were children. There has been a lot of Northern Lights activity this winter which will continue for the next two years according to forecasts.

Solar activity increased last year and will be at a peak in two years time.

And again the pictures say more than words although they can never convey the feelings you experience seeing the Norhern Lights dancing in the night sky with your own eyes.

Pictures taken in the garden last night, – 15°C.


It sure is cold outside!

Christmas lights in Selfoss

Since the beginning of December we have had temperatures well below zero, more than – 20° C some days. Last night it was -16° C. Circumstances have been compared to the winter of 1918, but temperatures this low for such an extended period have not been recorded here in Iceland since then. Talking about extremes, November also broke a record for being the warmest November since the beginning of the century. 

Here we are in the middle of January and although forecasts predict temperatures above zero it is only for a day or two and then again frosty weather.

Here in Selfoss there are heaps of snow and with this continuing we do not foresee it melting until spring. Also, it will be interesting to see the heating bills once they arrive. Thanks to hot geothermal water our houses are mostly warm and only big users like swimming pools that have had to close down temporarily.

Not only has the weather been compared to 1918 but also the health of the nation. That year the Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza, is believed to have infected  around 500 million people all over the world.  Now cases of influenza, COVID, RS virus and other respiratory diseases have surged in Iceland and medical centres and hospitals are overcrowded with patients. Thanks to advances in medical science we are nowhere near what happened in 1918.

Now we should just try to enjoy the snow and the Northern Lights that are at a peak at this time of year.
We hope you enjoy these pictures from Selfoss, taken in December and January.

Solar Eclipse

Solar eclipse, Selfoss, June 10, 2021.

Today, June 10, a partial solar eclipse is visible from Iceland, where weather conditions permit. It started at around 9 o’clock am and was visible until around 11 o’clock am.  This picture is taken a little before 11 o’clock in Selfoss when the sun could be seen through a layer of clouds.

A total eclipse could be seen in Greenland and northern Canada, and in some places in Russia,  In Northern Asia, Europe, and the United States a partial eclipse could be seen.

Northern Light activity

There has been a peak in solar activity in the last few days but cloudy skies here in the South have often prevented us from seeing them clearly and photographing them.  The North of the country, however, has enjoyed clearer skies and some magnificent shows of Aurora Borealis.

These photos were taken by Lake Þingvallavatn a few days ago when the the clouds gave way to the Northern Lights. Its colours were reflected in the frozen lake and the moon lit up the scenery.

A few nights ago we had some strong Northern Lights in green and beautiful red to pink colours. They could be seen dancing across the sky over Selfoss despite the lights from town.


Glitský (perlumóðurský) – nacreous cloud

Mother-of-pearl-clouds have been seen in many places over Iceland in the last few days. These are magnificent manifestations that sometimes appear in Arctic regions from the end November to February. This only occurs in the twilight and can both be in the evening and morning.

This phenomenon appears when it is very cold in the stratosphere (in the altitude of 15–30 km) with temperatures below the ice frost point, near -80°, which turns all moisture in the air into ice crystals.

These luminous clouds are also referred to as Ice polar stratospheric clouds or Nacreous clouds. The photos are taken about one hour before sunrise, at about 10 o’clock, from our house in Selfoss, Iceland.

Low solar activitiy and Northern Lights

Norðurljós – Northern Lights – Aurora borealis

It’s Northern Light time and despite low solar activity they can still take your breath away. For a few days last week we had some Northern Lights albeit not the multi-coloured variety but beautiful all the same.

These pictures were taken around 8 – 10 o’clock in the evening in Grímsnes, South Iceland, temperature around 0° C.

Night shining clouds

Silfurský – noctilucent clouds – night shining clouds

Night shining clouds or noctilucent clouds are not so common. In Iceland they can only seen around midnight in the end of July and the earlier part of August. These are very thin blue white clouds  that reach up to 80 km height, whereas usual clouds only reach up to around 10 km. This natural phenomena was first described in 1885, then only in connection with major volcanic activity. For further information see:

Today these clouds have become more common and are not only seen in connection with volcanic eruption. It is believed that pollution is the cause, i.d. the breakdown of methane gas in the mesosphere. The reason we see these clouds light up are the ice crystal that are generated when methane gas disintegrates.

Last night at 1 o’clock, when these photoes were taken, night shining clouds could be seen from Selfoss, lighting up the northern sky. – If we have clear skies tonight, you might be lucky enough to see these beautiful clouds in the northern sky.

Geomagnetic storms

Aurora Borealis is a mesmerising phenomena. Although solar activity is at a minimum this year the Northern Lights can still be spectacular, as was the case last night.  After midnight I caught these pictures and the Northern Lights were captivating despite the temperature being minus 14° C.

Solar activity is at a minimum this year and will probably be in the next two years as well.  Although solar activity is an indicator for spectacular Northern Lights, it  is not always the case. In the last few days the Earth has been inside a stream of solar winds which cause geomagnetic storms around the Arctic Circle. Thus these magnificent shows of Aurora Borealis.