Weather Bombed in Iceland... by Jez Everest

On Monday Heiko Buxel and Hugh Barron set out from Murchison House, Edinburgh for Iceland. Their mission was a relatively simple one- routine data downloads and site maintenance for the BGS Glacier Observatory Project, which has operated at Virkisjökull and Falljökull in southeast Iceland since 2009.

As Jez Everest (Project leader) illustrates through the boys latest field photos, the #weatherbomb has slightly upset their plans, but rewarded them with some staggering scenery!...

A flight from Glasgow taking an hour and a half longer than it ought due to incredible headwinds, was a taster of what has become a far from routine trip for our intrepid explorers. Two days of preparation in Reykjavik followed, working with our colleagues at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, and then the 250 mile drive eastwards to the field site on Wednesday.

As we know from the UK weather reports over the last few days, conditions in the Atlantic have been extreme, and Iceland, sitting as it does, unprotected from the full force of the ocean and atmosphere, has borne the brunt of this pounding. Hugh and Heiko drove through 70mph blizzards in the BGS truck, as temperatures sank far below zero. They made it to the field site unscathed after an arduous drive, to stay with our friends Oli and Palla, in their comfortable flat for the next week of sampling, monitoring and repairs.

The boys' schedule looks like it will be disrupted however, as the river is frozen over, making stream gauging impossible, and water sampling difficult. The extreme weather has caused some damage to our equipment, which will need fixing before they leave, and all the time they will be battling worsening weather and limited daylight.


Though it must be said, the pair are seasoned Icelandic winter campaigners, revelling in the conditions, and never shirking a challenge. Already they've re-installed a camera and solar panel to monitor proglacial lake levels, and have downloaded three of the four seismometers arranged around the glacier. It looks like they may get everything done, despite the conditions, and still have time for a well deserved beer, and a rest in a hot pool somewhere.

Well done chaps!

Keep an eye on the BGS YouTube channel as we'll be adding videos from Heiko and Hugh's adventures. Check us installing the equipment in 2011 and meet the whole team as they explored Iceland last year:

Project Leader: Virkisjökull Observatory, Iceland