Háskóli Íslands

Understanding North Atlantic climate

Iceland, being situated at the boundary of air and water masses of tropical and Arctic origin, has been more strongly impacted by subtle changes in the ocean/atmospheric circulation than other North Atlantic land masses. The physical environment in Iceland is therefore an important laboratory for understanding atmospheric and oceanographic processes and for identifying past climate variability, whose nature and forcing is vital for assessment of future climate evolution. The climatic conditions and topography in Iceland are conductive to high levels of glaciation. The glaciers are dynamically active and respond quickly to climatic fluctuations, and have significantly shaped the landscape and the adjacent sea-floor by means of erosion and deposition. The Quaternary and Tertiary history of glaciation, vegetation and fauna is archived in volcanic and sedimentary rock sequences and high-resolution marine and terrestrial sediments. Explosive volcanism in Iceland has produced widespread tephra markers in the North Atlantic region which offer reliable dating and correlation of the environmental archives.


Specific themes:

· Natural climate variability during the Quaternary. Anthropologically induced climate impact calls for improved understanding of natural climate variations. Possible future natural variations.

· High resolution paleoceanographic variability around Iceland and in the Nordic Seas since the Weichsel glaciation maximum (18-20 ka BP.

· Reconstruction of the Iceland Ice Sheet during the last glacial maximum (18-20 ka BP)

· Climate and glacier variations in Iceland during the Holocene (<10 ka BP).

· Sea ice in Icelandic waters (Remote sensing, monitoring of drift, ice drift modeling, forecasting, climatology, analyses of historical sources, impact on nature and society).

· Record of marine mollusc migration

· Analyses of Greenland ice cores

· Fluvial sedimentation rates.

· Paleo-ecology

· Soil erosion


Work groups: (reference to homepages)

Sedimentology (glacial geology)

Glaciology (cryodynamic modeling)

Dating (tephrochronology, C14, etc)


Pollen analyses

Isotope studies

Sea ice studies

Glacial geology

Glacial isostatic adjustment studies


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