Early spring confusing plants in east Iceland

The plant life in east Iceland is unusually green for the early time of year. Forest rangers can barely remember a greener March and say they worry a cold snap could cause great damage. Last May, for example, saw a sharp cold snap.

Iceland has been rather warm recently; and especially the east of the country. The average temperature in Egilsstaðir was more than four degrees higher than usual in February and was the warmest February
since the town started keeping records 57 years ago.

March has also been uncommonly warm and it is affecting the plants. Þröstur Eysteinsson, the national forestry commission chief in the Egilsstaðir area, says that growth has started early this year.

“It is very noticeable on the larch trees in the area how much green can be seen – and then on some of the shrubs; some of them are nearly in leaf. If we have prolonged warm spells like this then it is quick to happen and everything is totally green by mid April,” Þröstur says. He adds, however, that it is not necessarily a good thing because frost damage is a real risk when the growing season starts early. The larch is in particular danger, RÚV reports.

“It doesn’t need more that two, three days’ northerly wind and it gets really cold here and a serious cold snap. Three times in the last decade we have had spring cold spells which damaged the larches after this much warmth – especially in April when frost comes in May.