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Posts Tagged ‘Skaftafellsþjóðgarður’

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Last month I published hydrophone recording „Crawling glacier“ from the lagoon beneath Svínafellsjökul icefall.
The original recording contains two other channels with the sound above the lagoon.
It is not as clear in this short mp3 file as it is with headphones in the field, but during the recording it seems to be possible to hear the flow of the icefall though the valley. Its is a slow event. It usually starts high above in the mountain with rumbling sound and then slowly moves in a shock wave as a silk smooth „white noise“ though the valley all the way to the toe of the icefall. Regularly the ice moves faster in some places when the pressure get high. Then it cracks, some parts brake off and other just crawl faster which is usually audible for everyone.
This behavior of the glaciers is not often audible during the day because of traffic, wind or the clear sun which can easily disturb the sound waves in the air. Then it is also too slow for impatient listeners. Nights are usually the best time to hear this sound of the „flowing mass“. Changeable nature or different types of glaciers will also play a big rule how it acts and sounds.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 44,3Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2a-XLR & Sennheiser MKH20
Pix: Canon Eos M

Weather: Calm, cludy. 11°C
Location:64°00’12.7″N 16°52’39.6″W

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It is a special feeling to stay close to a glacier. It’s like standing near a wast monster that is constantly moving, but very slowly. Everywhere around this flexible ice the gravity of the ice is visible. Glaciers usually have strong smell of fresh oxygen that glaciers have captured in ice and compressed in to locked bubbles for hundreds and thousands of years. This smell from the past is like from another world, probably because today has much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than it has been for 800 thousand years at least. Glaciers also make sounds, sometimes quite loud, from falling drops of water to earthquakes, but most of these sounds are not audible to human ears. Glaciers make constant sound in water which needs hydrophones to capture, as can be heard on the following recording. I can not say I have been lucky in recording glacier sounds in years past. I’ve always been at the wrong place at the wrong time when glaciers produce “big sounds”, but after many hours, and several days on the same spot, I got something interesting which is worth listening to.
One of those days was 5th of June 2015 when I was at the glacier lagoon neneath of Skaftafellsjökull glacier’s icefall. This lagoon is not big, probably around 500m squared, but the depth is around 80 meters so the soundscape beneath the surface can be pretty exhilarating when the glacier is crawling at the bottom of the lagoon.
I put two hydrophones in the lagoon and two microphones on a nearby hill and recorded there for almost fourteen hours. The gain on the recorder was almost equal on all channels, or around 48dB, and during these 14 hour session the soundscape was different mostly because the glacier surface melts differently during the day then during the night with different water flows into the lagoon. All the time the glacier was grinding the bottom of the lagoon so under the lagoon’s surface the soundscape was much nosier than above.
Then just before midnight the glacier did a “big move” (starts 25:00) which lasted for several minutes, crawling with cracking and scratching sound. The soundscape down in the lagoon sounds really strange and surreal, but the listener must keep in mind that sound travels much faster in water than in the air. The soundscape above the lagoon was different. It was possible to ‘feel’ or ‘see’ through the audio the movement of the whole Svínafellsjökull glacier icefall through the valley. But that recording will be for another soundblog.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 63Mb)

Recorder Sound Devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2a XLR
Pix: Canon EOS M

Location: 64°00’12.7″N 16°52’39.6″W
Weather. Calm, cloudy, 11°C

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Two years ago, when I was recording in Skaftafell National Park, I noticed that Redwings sing differently between two places in the park. In the forest around Skaftafellsheiði, above the campsite and the information center, the redwings sing quiet „normal songs“ as most Redwings do in Iceland. But in nearby valley, in Morsárdalur in Bæjarstaðakógur forest, most of the Redwings colony start their song with two long tones before the „normal song“ starts.
I have search my recordings for something interesting. What makes it different and what is common with this Redwing songs which will probably bring me, or someone else, to further research.
But I will not talk about it here, because that will be another story.
By slowing down the recording four times (1min > 4min) it makes a totally new soundscape. It sounds like a rain forest full of screaming monkeys. It opens my mid for different understanding on birdsong. Redwing’s song is much more complex than I thought. They are far from being singing the same melody or make a simple message all the time. It sounds more like a complex language.
It does not matter what they are doing. Are they speaking to each other, sending messages or singing a complex song to the crowd, it always leave the question: What are they doing and what does it all mean?
Following recording was recorded last summer in Bæjarstaðaskógur. You can hear this special Redwing start his song with its two tones before he continues with a „normal“ song.
In the normal speed recording at 2:40, you will hear a rumble from the Morsárjökull glacier which was about 10km away
Background noise is mostly from streaming water in the mountains and the Morsá river.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

Normal speed.
(mp3 256kbps / 12Mb)

Slow speed (4x).
(mp3 256kbps /41Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SR-X4+ (24/48)
Mics: Sennheier MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS-M

Weather: Light cloud, showers around, calm, 10°C
Location: 64.058877,-17.024021

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Bæjarstaðaskógur (Farmsted forest) is a small forest in the east of Iceland, in Morsárdalur, in Skaftafell national park.
Morsárdalur, is a wide valley blanketed with woodland, contains multicolored rhyolite formations at Kjós valley, and the outlet glacier Morsárjökull with its creaking icefalls.
The forest’s name, Bæjarstaðaskógur, suggests that it used to be a farmstead during the Middle Ages and the ruins were quite visible until the 18th century.
Bæjarstaðaskógur is a beautiful oasis in the vast spread of sand. This 30 hectare forest is the most robust birch forest in Iceland, its birches can reaching 12 meters height. There are also Island’s straightest birches and the most precious. Bæjarstaðaskógur also has rowans and the most beautiful display of Icelandic wildflowers.
I have noticed that Redwing songs in this area is very different from other normal Redwing songs, even for whole Iceland. This Redwings stay in a small area, from the west side of the river Morsá to Bæjarstaðarskógur. Their song start with three or two falling pitch tone, always the same, before they start to sing in full blast.
If you are trained listener you will hear this Redwing song in this recording.
This is a 28 minutes part of seven hours long overnight recording. This part was recorded at 30th of May 2016, between 6 and 7 AM. About one minute after the recording start you will hear high rumbling sound from Morsárjökull glacier and with quality headphones you should hear rumbling sound many times. The mid range ambient noise is mostly rivers in mountains all around and Morsá in the valley. The white noise is a mic noise
This is a highly amplified recording. Recorded with MKH20 & NT1a, very close to each other at 52dB and then amplified again +30dB, so the sound is rather „flat“.
Quality open headphones are though recommended while listening at low level.

(256kbps / 54Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics. Rode NT1a (NOS) & Senmnheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.059604, -17.026755
Weather: Mostly clear sky, calm, temp. around 2°C

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Svínafellsjökull icefall lay in a valley between Svínafellsheiði and Hafrafell. It is an icefall from Öræfajökull which is the highest mountain/glacier in Iceland around 2109 meters high.
I spent several nights beneath Svínafellsjökull icefall in May, both 2015 and 2016, recording 8-10 hours overnight recording. I was always trying to capture iceberg breakdown into the glacier lagoon, because last time I record it in 2014 it was disturbed with huge tsunami.
But most of the breakdown was probably somewhere between 1300-1700 meters, high in the mountain.
Anyway, during the night when traffic goes down and the weather was calm, it was always interesting to listen to the glacier in the „silence“. It starts like a thunder with low frequency rumble, high in the mountains. Then a strange „white noise“ falls slowly down the the wally, all the way to the end of the icefall toe. I am still not sure if it was an echo from the mountain or some crawling sound from the glacier. But it was so slow that I am almost sure that it is was not an echo from surrounding mountains.
But this is not what you will hear in the following recording. After one of this overnight recording in 15th of May 2016 I decided to record near to a frozen pond close to the glacier’s toe. The time was around eight o´clock in the morning so the tourist traffic had not began to disturb the soundscape. The temperature was just below zero, but the morning sun was already melting the ice in the area. The soundscape was amazing. With closed eyes it sounds like a busy place with bunch of small elves. Small trickle, ticks and cracks makes the soundscape worth to listen and to record.
At 17th minute the glacier start to crawl and then again one minute later with low frequency rumble.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256 kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (parallel ORFT)
Pix : Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.001270, -16.877298
Weather: Clear sky, calm, 1°C

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Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume (3,100 km³). Vatnajökull has around 30 outlet glaciers (icefall) flowing from the ice cap. Svíafellsjökull is one of them.
Glaciers are not a playground for everyone. They have its own weather system and the gravity force will destroy everything that get lost in the ice.
Two British students lost their lives 1953 in a storm which lasted for 10 days on the glacier. It was not until 2003 that some of their equipment was found, carried forward with the movement of the outlet glacier. No human remains were found.
Two German tourist have been missing since 1st of August 2007 when they were on a hiking trip on Svínafellsjökull. Nobody knows what really happened but it is most likely that they fell in a swallow somewhere on the glacier, but their equipment was found in a small valley, high in the nearby mountains.
All glaciers have been shrinking fast last decade. That can be easily seen at the end of Svínafellsjökull witch now has a big glacier lagoon that did not exist few years ago.
As glaciers the glacier lagoons can be also dangerous. Icebergs can suddenly fall off the icefall and make huge waves in the lagoon, also when icebergs turns around or brake down in a parts.
I got in touch of these forces when I was recording the lagoon under Svínafellsjökull, 23rd of May 2014. I hid the equipment from other tourist in a landslide nearby and about two meters above the lagoon surface. Two Aquarian hydrophones where placed in the lagoon and a pair of MKH20 was used to pick up the sounds above the lagoon. The idea was to record in two or three hours.
I was in another place with my second recorder to record a sound close by the glacier.
After one and half hour I suddenly hear a big „bang“ with a long powerful echo from nearby mountains. All the icebergs on the lagoon suddenly moved around as a beans in a boiling pot.
I ran to the recorder´s place on the other side of the lagoon. The bag with the recorder was floating between the Icebergs so it was no problem to locate it in the muddy water. I disconnect the battery and took it inside to dry it as fast as I could. But nevertheless, it had several malfunctions since this drowning.
I am not sure what really happened. The flood line does´t goes all the away to the recorder´s place. I think it is most likely that some icebergs pulled the recorder by the hydrophones into the lagoon.
Thanks to Sound Devices in US and the reseller in Iceland (Pfaff-Borgarljós and Bragi Kort) I got a new recorder for a very nice price. Most of the loss was then covered by the insurances.

Flóðbylgjan við Svínafellsjökul

Jöklar og umhverfi þeirra getur verið hættulegt þeim sem það ekki þekkjir. Jöklarnir eru síbreytilegir og hafa sitt eigið veðrakerfi. Því ber að umgangast þá með varúð. Skemmst er að minnast hvarf tveggja þjóðverja á Svínafellsjökli þann 1. ágúst 2007 .
Mér var það svo sem lika ljóst að jökullón geta verið hættuleg þann 23. maí 2014 þegar ég staðsetti upptökutæki við jökullónið neðan við Svínafellsjökul. Tveir Aquarian vatnahljóðnemar voru staðsettir ofan í lóninu og aðrir tveir MKH20 hljóðnemar ofan við lónið. Sjálfur fór ég með annað upptökutæki til að hljóðrita upp við jökulinn sjálfan.
En líklega er aldrei of varlega farið. Eftir u.þ.b. eina og hálfa klukkustund kvað við mikill hvellur frá jökulsporðinum sem bargmálaði í fjöllunum ofan við jökulinn. Stuttu síðar fór allt jökullónið á hreyfingu eins og iðandi suðupottur. Mér varð því ljóst að upptökutækið við lónið gæti verið í hættu. Hljóp ég því sem fætur toguðu að staðnum, en allt kom fyrir ekki. Tækið var komið út í lónið og flaut þar í tösku milli ísjaka. Eftir að hafa þrifið það og þurrkað kom í ljós að tækið hafði bilað varanlega eftir þessa sundferð.
Allt bendir til þess að ísjaki hafi dregið tækið í lónið á vatnahljóðnemunum því flóðlínan hafði ekki náð upp að staðnum þar sem tækið hafði staðið. En skaðinn var skeður sem leytist þó á endanum þokkalega farsællega þó tjónið hafi verið eitthvert. Með óútskýranlegum hætti vistaði upptökutækið upptökuna áður en það drukknaði. Það sem hér má heyra eru síðustu andartök tækisins.

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2n-XLR & Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS-M (See more pictures)
Recording location: 64.007509, -16.883081
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 9°C

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