Category Archives: Weather

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.

Harsh welcome for our summer birds

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

Redwings have a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. They  signal the usually long awaited coming of spring. Huge flocks of them arrived here April 5 and 6 from their winter grounds in Britain and Western Europe. They were, however, not welcomed with spring weather, but with a full-blown blizzard, one of the worst this winter.

Outside our window on April 5

The weather was as bad as it can get, with snow blowing into huge banks, the shivering birds covered in snow and the house trembling from the storm. It is likely that some if them have not survived this harsh welcome.

This sunny morning, in the snow and frost, there are around 30 singing Redwings in the garden, quarrelling over the feed trays – the garden resounding with their song.

Mother-of-pearl-clouds

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noctilucent_cloud

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.

Winter Solstice

Selfoss, South Iceland at 13:30, 21 Dec.
The shortest day of the year and the longest night have just passed. We wake up to a new day which is supposedly a tiny bit longer than the last one and hopefully a bit brighter. Winter solstice was yesterday. December has been dark, literally speaking. No snow here in South Iceland to brighten up our days, mostly rain with overcast skies. Christmas lights, however, make up for the lack of daylight in the Yuletide celebrations. – Happy holidays and peace on Earth.

Longest day of the year

It is summer solstice – the shortest night of the year. Sunset was at 23:55 and sunrise at 2:57. These are magical nights when the sun is setting and rising so soon afterwards. This photo was taken at 1:30, in the darkest hours, over Ölfusá River and Mount Ingólfsfjall. Now is such a lovely time to go camping because everything is easier when there is light.

At 1:30 in the night

There is more or less daylight all the time and does not get totally dark until July 20. No northern lights can be seen until the middle of August.

Brighter days

In February the sun crawls a little bit higher in the sky. We feel its rays warming up our days albeit just slightly.  After the darkness of December and January it feels nice to go out during midday to feel its rays on ones skin. Although the weather has been very turbulent we have had a few nice days in the last couple of weeks as these photos show.