Morning photo: See forever


To me, one of the coolest things about traveling the jet age is the chance to see old and new landmarks from the air. As I’ve written before, I always try to get a window seat on long flights, unless it’s a red-eye. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by maps. I remember tracing the paths of highways and the shape of coastlines, both familiar and unknown, on the dog-eared paper versions in my dad’s car, and following along as we traveled, anticipating the towns that were coming up. Air travel gives this game a whole new dimension. On a recent trip from Reykjavik to Frankfurt, I could see that the flight would take us near Amsterdam, one of my favorite cities, so when we approached the coast of Holland, I scanned the horizon. Sure enough, I was able to recognize the city from its network of canals that encircle the ancient central district like a spiderweb. For me, watching the scenery unfold from 35,000 feet is a free geography lesson. Call me a nerd, but I love it!

Environment: Study quantifies volcano pollution


Plumes of smoke and flames rise from an eruption at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland, in 2014. The amount of sulphur dioxide emitted in the six-month eruption was treble that given off by all of Europe’s industry. Credit Dr. John Stevenson

12,000 tons of sulphur dioxide per day …

Staff Report

Researchers in the UK have helped show how volcanoes can affect air quality by quantifying emissions from last year’s eruption of Iceland’s Bárðarbunga volcano.

“The eruption discharged lava at a rate of more than 200 cubic metres per second, which is equivalent to filling five Olympic-sized swimming pools in a minute,” said Dr Anja Schmidt from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, who led the study. Continue reading

Morning photo: Southern Iceland

Find you bliss …

On our way to Austria, we took advantage of Iceland Air’s liberal stopover policy and spent a couple of days touring the island’s southern coast in a mini-campervan. It’s coast Highway 1, just like in California, except for the volcanoes, glaciers and lamb-burgers in the roadside truck stops. The glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón has long been on the list, so we bee-lined for it the first day, then took our time heading back to Reykjavik, with stops at hot springs, waterfalls and lava cliffs along the way. More to come, so stay tuned.

Climate: Rapid Iceland uplift linked with ice cap meltdown

Some research suggests vanishing ice could trigger volcanoes


Could the meltdown of Iceland’s glaciers result in more volcanic activity? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Like a baking cake, Iceland is rising up as global warming melts the island’s ice caps and glaciers.

Using detailed data from a network of 62 GPS monitoring sites, scientists showed, for example, that parts of south-central Iceland are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year — a speed that surprised the researchers, who linked the changes with global warming.

“What we’re observing is a climatically induced change in the Earth’s surface,” said University of Arizona geosciences professor Richard Bennett. “Iceland is the first place we can say accelerated uplift means accelerated ice mass loss,” Bennett said. Continue reading

Morning photo: Colors of Iceland

Flashback …

FRISCO — From the surreal mineral-tinted waters of the Blue Lagoon to glacial runoff in the highlands, Iceland is dominated by water features. As I recently wandered through the Summit Voice photo archives, I noticed how nearly every single image in the set included water in some form, including massive geysers, ubiquitous waterfalls and, of course, the sea!

Oceans: Iceland faces sanctions over whaling

Whale is on the menu in some Iceland restaurants. bberwyn photo.

Whale is on the menu in some Iceland restaurants. bberwyn photo.

U.S. officials say whaling trade violates international conservation treaty

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Iceland may face trade sanctions after U.S. officials formally declared that the island nation’s whaling is undermining an international ban on commercial trade in whale products.

The declaration by U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell may have been spurred in part by Iceland’s December announcement that commercial whaling will continue for the next five years. As many as 154 endangered fin whales and 229 minke whales could be killed each year under Iceland’s self-allocated quotas which are set to run from 2014 to 2018.

Iceland killed 35 minke whales and 134 fin whales, massive animals second only to blue whales in size, during the 2013 whaling season. Whaling has deep cultural and economic roots in Iceland, and the fishing industry is by far the largest sector of the country’s economy, but wildlife and animal rights advocacy groups say it’s time for Iceland to rethink its whaling activities. Continue reading

Morning photo: 2013 Travel shots

Around the world with Summit Voice


A classic sunset view of San Francisco sky from the Coit Tower.

FRISCO — If you’ve been a Summit Voice reader for a few years, then you’ve probably had a chance to visit a few special places with us — maybe the olive groves of Corfu, ancient castles and world heritage sites in Albania or the icefields of Antarctica. This year’s trips included a short visit to San Francisco early in the year, and an autumn journey to Iceland, fulfilling a long-time travel dream. It’s hard to narrow down hundreds of shots to find some “favorites,” so I just went with my gut feeling, choosing the images that evoked the strongest feeling as I scrolled through the archives. Happy trails to you in 2014! Continue reading


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