“Something in the air”. Challenges of living in the largest desert in Europe

It is Saturday morning, and I am going over my cleaning routine. A quick swipe across the windowsill leaves on my index finger a thin layer of blackish dust. It is something that each of us probably experiences daily if you live in Iceland for at least a few days. Tiny little particles that surround you wherever you go, on your windowsills, in your car, or sometimes, when you look at the horizon. Maybe also to remind us that Iceland is a country of ice and fire, but also the largest desert in Europe that is more active than the Gobi Desert

However, this has not always been the case. Icelandic deserts were formed by intense deforestation as the Vikings chopped off the trees and bushes to build their houses and ships. Consequently, sheep took care of the grass and whatever resisted the raid of the Vikings. The bare landscape had to face bunts of strong winds, glaciers, or volcanic eruptions, which formed a typical inhospitable terrain that often looks like the Moon’s landscape. No wonder that Iceland hosted Neil Armstrong’s crew for training before they went to Moon in 1966. 

Read the whole article in WeGuide – January 2021.

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