Iceland, the most unique of all Nordic countries
Article by Dagur Jonsson
The country of Iceland is very different from other countries in its region which is popularly known as “Nordic region” or “Nordic countries”. The reason is Iceland’s entire landscape which is covered by plateaus, volcanoes, geysers and glaciers and most importantly very big uninhabited and unpopulated areas. Iceland has got the world’s biggest count of natural hot geysers and hot springs.
This relatively cooler country of Iceland lies on the extreme North West border of Europe [more towards north and less towards west] between the tundra zone with moorlands without trees and huge pine forest zones. The ancient remains of birch forest are still visible at many places. Bogs and marshes are found in plenty. As little as only 25 percent of total land is covered by green vegetation and out of this only one percent is covered by trees. Only one percent of Iceland contains arable lands and market gardens. The season for cultivation is very small in Iceland. Hence, all agricultural products are more concentrated towards animal farming. The maximum part of arable land is utilized for the cultivation of hay and other foodstuffs.
Not only in Iceland but in whole Nordic region, climate is controlled by two important factors. 1. Their position in that particular area, and2. their proximity to the Atlantic ocean with the gulf stream
The more northern position means that the average temperature will remain very low i.e. around or below zero during the coolest months of winter. It has been recorded in books that Iceland has never recorded the average temperature of more than 19 degrees from 1961 till 1990. In other Nordic countries like Norway and Sweden, there is a bigger difference between the temperature in winters of northern region and southern region as the land stretches from far south to far north.
And because the location if Iceland lies in extreme north, it is far more cool than one can expect, in winters especially. The mean temperature of capital city Reykjavik is five degrees and the temperatures in January and July are -0.4 degrees and 11 degrees respectively. The southern part and south coast of Iceland receives an annual rainfall of 3000 MM and this quantity decreases to around 400 MM in highlands and in north of Vatnajokull.
In whole it can be said that the weather of Iceland is not reliable as it depends mostly on the atmospheric pressure going trans-Atlantic. The passage of this depression from southern Iceland makes weather more dry and cold there. The passage of this depression from north east Iceland and Greenland makes weather mild and dry in that area. The coastal areas of Iceland are windy and gales are very common here in winter season and thunderstorms are not that common.
The southern and western coasts and parts of Iceland are relatively hotter in winter and this is all due to warm waters flowing in gulf streams. July and august are the warmest months of this region and the quality of weather improves as one moves towards north and east. These directions have more chances of clear weather but in interior deserts can show you blizzards and strong winds flowing along with dust and sand. In Iceland there is continuous day for two or three months i.e. early spring and late autumn. During summers the sun never sets especially in June. Tours are organized to the island of grimsey where one can view the most spectacular scene of his life “the midnight sun”. It is always advised to go through weather forecasts before you check in to Iceland because there is no guarantee of it.
About the Author
Dagur Jonsson is the editor of Iceland Guest, a website specializing in tourist information for travelers to Iceland. For more information visit www.icelandguest.com