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The northernmost parts of Iceland touch the polar circle at 66° where a whole armada of icebergs and floes drift southward in the arctic sea water of the East Greenland current close to the northwestern coast of Iceland. The inland ice caps receive an annual snow cover up to 15 m (50 ft). Despite these harsh environmental parameters the Icelandic climate is surprisingly mild throughout the year. This is because Iceland is located in the midst of the North Atlantic where it is affected by the warm water current of the Gulf Stream. The warm recirculation branch of the Gulf Stream, called Irminger current encircles Iceland counterclockwise and prevents the sea water from freezing in most winters. However, regions in the vicinity of the large ice caps produce their own regional climate due to permanently blowing cold winds that descend from the top of the ice caps into the valleys and even out to sea. These gravity driven katabatic winds can reach gale force and drop the local temperature significantly compared to adjacent areas. This is the main reason why the brackish lagoon of Jökulsárlón at Vatnajökull can completely freeze in winter, allowing direct access to the icebergs. The 1000 years old ice of this frozen arch is the remainder of a glacial cave where a torrential meltwater stream was once released from the glacier. The waxing moon was shining through this arctic gate in the chilly winter atmosphere. By the thaw of next spring this ice formation will be destroyed forever in the surf of the North Atlantic.

January 2011
Canon 5D MkII, Canon L 16-35 mm, f/16, 25 sec, ISO 50, Lee GND, tripod

More information:

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