Beached Jewels

Two small icebergs beached at low tide on the Jökulsárlón Strandur coastline on Iceland. They sparkle like diamonds on the pitch-black lava sand during the twilight of the winter morning.
The prerequisites for spectacular sky colors at dusk, which effectively showcase the beached icebergs, are not easy to get during the Icelandic winter. At this time, the clear sky was associated with a stationary low pressure system situated to the northeast of Iceland. The counterclockwise rotation of a cyclone leads to a northward flow of warm and moist air east of the storm center. This uplifting air mass predominantly brings cloudy weather and rain. In contrast, the western part of the cyclone is dominated by cold and dry air flowing southward. This cold air mass is on average vertically descending, and usually brings clear skies with embedded showers. However, when such a cold air mass crosses Iceland from the north, the 1725 m (5659 ft) high ice cap of Vatnajökull blocks this air flow. This forces the air to lift at the northern slopes of the Vatnajökull ice cap. In winter this leads to intense and prolonged snowfall in the north of Iceland. The southern slopes of the Vatnajökull ice cap are in turn dominated by descending and therefore dry air. In the lee of the ice cap the typical clear sky develops. This is the well-known foehn effect. At a distance of more than 20 km (12.4 mi) over the ocean, this effect weakens, so that first low-level clouds can develop. These can be seen on the distant horizon.
This meteorological setting resulted in spectacular light during twilight, at which these icebergs appeared like beached jewels on the black volcanic sand of Jökulsárlón.

January 2011
Canon 5D MkII, Canon EF-L 16-35 mm, f/16, 5 sec, ISO 200, Lee grey neutral density filter, tripod
Iceland Gallery » Beached Jewels