Day two: Greenland is icy, Iceland is …

The old saying “Greenland is icy, Iceland is green” isn’t entirely true.

Yes, Greenland is pretty much covered in glaciers, but Iceland has some impressive ice caps of its own. There’s Vatnajökull, which covers more than 8,000 square kilometers and generates its own local weather, and Eyjafjallajökull, which makes newscasters all over the world bumble through its name when the volcano beneath the ice erupts and shuts down air travel to Europe.  Icelandic glaciers are remnants of an ice sheet that covered the entire island until about 12,000 years ago.

Icelandic glaciers
Icelandic glaciers

Still, the saying isn’t entirely false, either. The waters around Iceland do tend to keep the temperatures reasonably moderate. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Reykjavik, for example, was -12° F, almost a century ago. Compare that to some major US cities (Chicago, record low −24° F; Boston −30° F; Minneapolis −41° F), and Reykjavik seems downright balmy.

Wild lupines in Reykjavik

Summer in Iceland is pretty. The sun shines; flowers blossom; and if you’re not careful, you can get sunburned.  Like I did today. After moving here from the desert. It’s embarrassing.

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