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Access to the icebergs on the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón in Iceland requires a multitude of prerequisites to align. A sequence of low pressure systems within the westwind drift over the North Atlantic brought vast amounts of rainfall to southern Iceland. The rain melted the snow cover on the icebergs and polished the surface to a deep blue color. At the same time the lagoon water temperature dropped below the freezing point which is below 0°C (32°F) as the lagoon connects to the open ocean and contains brackish water. The floating icebergs cool the water but the main cooling comes from the katabatic winds of the glacier. This density driven wind is caused by the icy heavy air that rushes down the ice cap at high speeds towards lower elevations. Hence the low air temperature leads to thick ice on the lagoon although the lake level is affected by the tide. The weather changed to a northerly flow with low pressure to the northeast of Iceland. This resulted in persistent gale force winds up to 57 m/s (200 km/h or 200 mph) at -8°C (18°F) that dumped vast amounts of snow in northern Iceland while the South remained free of snow. Instead the wind blew black volcanic ash and sand across the landscape that accentuated the glacier ice surface into an artwork of forms, colors and patterns, enchanted by the purple light of the Earth shade.

January 2011
Canon 5D MkII, Canon L 16-35 mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO 50, tripod

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