Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

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edfrank
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Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by edfrank » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:48 pm

Iceland's Dramatic Landscape: Volcanoes, Glaciers, Deserts, and More
http://www.treehugger.com/galleries/201 ... php?page=1
The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano temporarily shut down Europe—and put Iceland squarely on the front page of newspapers around the world. It also highlighted the fact that Iceland—in spite of the many glaciers covering the island—is hardly a frozen monolith. Indeed, it's a country defined by an ever-changing and dramatic landscape.
This site has a nice slideshow of 14 scenes from Iceland and coments on the deforestation of once widespread birch forests
Slide 11 of 14
Slide 11 of 14
Iceland is home to only a single indigenous land mammal—the arctic fox—and no native reptile or amphibians. Though much of the island was once covered in forests of native birch, deforestation and soil degradation has driven the species to only a few small preserves.
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James Parton
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by James Parton » Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:32 pm

Ed,

It would be a really cool place to visit!

JP
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Don
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by Don » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:41 pm

Ed/JP-
It's a curious thing, that Iceland's so green, and Greenland's so, well, icy...I suspect that climate change aside, these two lands have alternated back and forth prior to anyone naming them...
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by edfrank » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:34 pm

Don wrote:Ed/JP-
It's a curious thing, that Iceland's so green, and Greenland's so, well, icy...I suspect that climate change aside, these two lands have alternated back and forth prior to anyone naming them...
Don,


According to http://nat.is/greenlandeng/greenland_history.htm The first Inuit settleres reached Greenland around 2000BC. Eric the Red and a norse colony settled in Greenland in 946 AD. Accounts describing the landscape at the time are few on the internet, but the norse settlers were farming and grazing cattle in southernmost Greenland. Some accounts suggest that the exploration farther westward that resulted in finding continental North America were made because of the lack of timber on Greenland. I don't really know if there were high latitude forest trees present, such as the aspens in Iceland, at the time of Norse settlement. If present they may have been cut down by these early settlers for fuela and materials or they may not have been present. More research is needed to tell for sure.

It is likely that the climate of Greenland is much colder than Iceland because Greenland is an much larger land mass in more of a continental setting with a an arctic cold high pressure system sitting over the top of the island much of thenyear, while the climate of Iceland is more mitigated by the surrounding north Atlantic ocean waters. But even within these constraints there has been climatic variation there.

http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/su ... nment.html
Studies of environmental conditions, climate, and their interactions have produced important new information relevant to Norse extinction in Greenland. Most revealing is the detailed evidence of climatic changes that occurred in the northwestern Atlantic beginning in the early 1300s...These indicators clearly suggest that the climate was cooling in the 14th century, and that the Greenlandic environment had been depleted of its "natural capital"--its previously untapped grasslands and animal resources-over 500 years of farming practices in this delicate arctic climate.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 142112.htm
Greenland Ice Core Analysis Shows Drastic Climate Change Near End Of Last Ice Age
ScienceDaily (June 19, 2008) — Information gleaned from a Greenland ice core by an international science team shows that two huge Northern Hemisphere temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.
As a side note of interest:
Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea level 23 feet – or to fill the Lower 48 states 2,940 feet high, like a bathtub.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by Don » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:52 pm

Ed-
Additionally, the latest National Geographic has a nice spread on Greenland, including images of the presumed homestead of Eric the Red!
-Don
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Iceland

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:51 am

The Icelandic Sagas allude to a heavily forested island when the Vikings first arrived. Now Iceland is not heavily forested. However, material and debris uncovered by archeologists have confirmed that the Sagas were likely correct, and that 1,000 years of colonization and use has simply resulted in mass deforestation in the case of Iceland.
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Re: Iceland

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:45 pm

PAwildernessadvocate wrote:The Icelandic Sagas allude to a heavily forested island when the Vikings first arrived. Now Iceland is not heavily forested. However, material and debris uncovered by archeologists have confirmed that the Sagas were likely correct, and that 1,000 years of colonization and use has simply resulted in mass deforestation in the case of Iceland.
Very interesting article on this subject in the New York Times today:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... ation.html
The country lost most of its trees more than a thousand years ago, when Viking settlers took their axes to the forests that covered one-quarter of the countryside. Now Icelanders would like to get some of those forests back, to improve and stabilize the country’s harsh soils, help agriculture and fight climate change.
IcelandReforestation.jpg
Larus Heidarsson, a forestry worker, and Maria Vesta, a university student, measure pine trees planted in 2004.
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

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Don
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by Don » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:50 pm

Having visited Iceland within the last decade, and seen portions of the West half of roaded Iceland, I can attest to the paucity of trees. I did have occasion to view one of the few (at that time) forest plantations, and it was looking successful. Here is an obvious opportunity for Iceland to encourage eco-tourism, with an emphasis on planting seedlings, whether grasses (for a start), lupines (and/or other soil enhancing, nitrogen fixing legumes), and finally a variety of northern (read boreal) species of trees (birch, spruce, Siberian larch, etc.).
But be prepared for success to be measured in generations, not years, or even decades...
-Don
A Rare Forest Plantation From Western half of Iceland
A Rare Forest Plantation From Western half of Iceland
Last edited by Don on Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:12 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Rand
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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by Rand » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:59 pm

And the most horrifying part:
In the huge sandstorm of 1882, the farm and much of the surrounding area was buried. Over nearly two weeks, the blowing sand scoured the land and destroyed all the vegetation. Hundreds of sheep died, their wool so weighed down with sand that they could not reach shelter. A nearby lake was completely filled in; farmers found trout lying on the top of the sand once the storm was over.
That sounds like it would top this country's Dust Bowl...

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Re: Iceland's Dramatic Landscape

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:01 am

Don wrote:Having visited Iceland within the last decade, and seen portions of the West half of roaded Iceland, I can attest to the paucity of trees. I did have occasion to view one of the few (at that time) forest plantations, and it was looking successful. Here is an obvious opportunity for Iceland to encourage eco-tourism, with an emphasis on planting seedlings, whether grasses (for a start), lupines (and/or other soil enhancing, nitrogen fixing legumes), and finally a variety of northern species of trees (birch, spruce, Siberian larch, etc.).
But be prepared for success to be measured in generations, not years, or even decades...
I've often thought of the possibility of moving to Iceland, or maybe the Faroe Islands. But even if everything else fell into place allowing me to do it, there is one factor for both countries that would really give me pause -- no trees! Or at least, no real forests to speak of. Could I really settle permanently in a country with no forests? That would be tough.
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

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