The sea is getting warmer
Constant monitoring for 50 years
Bjarni Sæmundsson, a Hafrannsóknastofnun research ship, set off on a two-week trip around Iceland on 15th February. Such research missions take place four times a year to assess conditions; including temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, and currents. The expeditions are part of a long-term research project that has been providing quarterly data since 1970.
More variability in the sea to the north
Sólveig Rósa Ólafsdóttir, a chemist and Hafrannsóknastofnun project manager, says ocean temperatures have been high for around 20 years. “The temperature of the warmer waters to the south and west of the country has been higher than in the measurements for the 30 preceding years,” Sólveig says. “This warming also extends to the northern areas, where the conditions are more changeable because there both this warm Atlantic sea and cold polar sea mix together, and the conditions depend on how much of the Atlantic water or the polar water there is, so the changes there year by year are much greater than in the Atlantic waters to the south. But in the north, for example in measurements from Siglunessnið, which is off the middle of North Iceland, the sea temperature has been above average for the past 15 to 20 years.”
Too early to judge
Is it possible to assess whether changes are for the better or the worse?
“I don’t think it’s possible so far to do that because the variability in this system is high and natural conditions are changeable,” Sólveig says.