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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

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Morning photo: 2013 Travel shots

Around the world with Summit Voice

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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

Morning photo: Wide-open spaces

Iceland revisited …

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In the midst of wildness, farmers, going back to the Viking days, have eked out some patches of cultivated land. Click on the image to see it full-sized.

FRISCO — I always wait a few weeks before I go back to a set of images and get serious about deleting the shots that don’t measure up. Sometimes, they’re just slightly out of focus, other times I don’t like the composition, or the lighting just wasn’t quite right. Some images just don’t hold any interest because they lack strong lines, or they’re just empty.

In the series of pictures I shot during a recent visit to Iceland, there are a number of scenes that emphasize the open spaces, which dominate much of the country’s landscape. I had earmarked a bunch of shots for deletion, but before making the final cut, I went back one more time and found a few that showcase the scale of the countryside in the remote West Fjords, choosing images that at least had some interesting lines or light-play — something to draw the eye! Click on the images to see them full-size, And please visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscapes. Continue reading

Friday Fotos: Evening light

The golden hour …

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Close to home — A winter evening in Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO —Another great #FriFotos theme that’s right up my alley, because there’s nothing I like better than getting out and about during that magical evening hour when even the most mundane scene can come alive with an otherworldly glow. In fact, shooting in the evening is a bit of an obsession that sometimes means my family doesn’t get dinner until quite late, especially in the summer, when sunset is late to begin with. But Leigh and Dylan tolerate, and even encourage me, which means I’ve had the chance to get some pretty amazing shots. I’m looking forward to seeing evening scenes from around the world streaming on Twitter and Instagram today, and you can join in the fun by uploading your own evening pics and tagging them with #FriFotos — then, sit back and enjoy the show. Continue reading

New map details Iceland glaciers, sub-glacial volcanoes

New map provides valuable information the global warming era

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Iceland’s glaciers are an important source of water for hydropower generation.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A team effort by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Icelandic Meteorological Office has resulted in a new map detailing all of Iceland’s glaciers, as well as subglacial volcanoes. The map incorporates historical data and coverage from aerial photographs and remote sensing satellites, helping to show recent and historic changes in Iceland’s dynamic landscape.

Iceland has about 300 glaciers throughout the country, and altogether, 269 glaciers, outlet glaciers and internal ice caps are named. The glaciers that lack names are small and largely newly revealed, exposed by melting of snow pack due to warmer summer temperatures. The number of identified glaciers has nearly doubled at the beginning of the 21st century. Continue reading

Morning photo: West Fjords

Amazing land and seascapes

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Fjord light.

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The West Fjords of Iceland claw into the North Atlantic.

FRISCO — Iceland is fairly remote to begin with, as far as remoteness goes in the era of jet travel, and the West Fjords, a cluster of mountainous peninsulas jutting northwest toward Greenland, may be the most remote part of the North Atlantic island. Probably any traveler worth his or her salt would look at a map of the country and automatically be drawn toward the region, where only a few roads have been carved along and over the steep walls of the fjords. Towns are few and far between, but hot springs are plentiful, and if you go far enough, you’ll end up at Látravík, considered to be the westernmost point of Europe and home to one of the North Atlantic’s key seabird rookeries. Magical light, magnificent scenery and plenty of peace and quiet are the hallmarks of the area, and we’re already plotting a return visit. Continue reading

Morning photo: Iceland landscapes

Remote and pristine …

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An iPhone pano in the West Fjords captures some of the vastness of this remote landscape.

FRISCO — Pristine is an over-used word when it comes to landscapes, but in Iceland, it seems to apply more than in many other places. The island itself is far from most other landmasses and population centers, and the sparse population means there isn’t nearly as much detritus as in many parts of the world. For a photographer, that means unblemished vistas and untouched scenery. You almost have to go out of your way to find a structure to give some of the scenes a sense of scale. All in all, Iceland is a photographer’s dream. Even when the mists and rain roll in, the ensuing light can be magical.

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The Hvítá River carves a dramatic canyon through the lava landscape at the Hraunfossar waterfall in iceland.

Continue reading

Morning photo: Fields

Pastoral beauty

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Fallow fields in Grand Junction, Colorado, with the Grand Mesa as a backdrop.

FRISCO — I haven’t joined in the #FriFotos Twitter chat for a few months, but when I saw this week’s topic, I did a quick scan of the Summit Voice archives to find some of my favorite pictures of fields around the world, starting right here at home in Colorado and ranging as far as Iceland and Antarctica. On a recent trip, Leigh and I had a chance to visit Iceland, and amidst the wondrous ice fields and stunning coastline, we were fascinated by the lava fields, some of which are carpeted with a squishy, thick layer of moss. Upload your field photos via Flickr, Twitter or Instagram, tag them with #FriFotos and then enjoy the global slide show! Continue reading

Morning photo: Falling water

Astounding cascades in Iceland

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Waterfall in Tostanfjörður, in the West Fjords region of Iceland.

FRISCO — Between plentiful precipitation, melting icecaps of late summer, and precipitous geology, Iceland is a paradise of waterfalls. On the routes that Leigh and I explored last month, we seemed to encounter a new cascade around nearly every bend in the road. Some, like Gullfoss, are rather famous stops on the well-worn tourist path. Others, equally beautiful, seem to exist in a quiet near-vacuum of the sparsely populated island, especially in the remote West Fjords region, where each of the glacier-carved valley boasts dozens of falls, usually culminating in one final drop at the head of the fjord, where the rivers pour into the sea. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fire and ice

Incredible contrasts in Iceland

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The moon rises over the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon, near Grindavik, Iceland. Once the geothermally heated was has served its purpose generating electricity, its funneled into the nearby lava beds, supplying water for the world-famous spa and pool.

FRISCO — More than any other country, Iceland has access to incredible amounts of geothermal energy, used to heat entire communities and to produce electricity. Often, the super-heated water spews or bubbles from the ground close to the ice-clad mountains. In fact, the water running off the glaciers is an important part of the geothermal cycles, as it trickles down through the faults in the Earth’s crust — which is cracked and split to begin with in this region — only to be heated by seething magma, and then rising to the surface. The fascinating juxtaposition of fire and ice is one of the most appealing facets of this wind-whipped island in the North Atlantic. Continue reading

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