Birdlife in Þeistareykir
The Northeast Iceland Nature Research Centre has monitored birdlife in the area affected by the Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Station during the construction phase. The results date back to 2015 and indicate that the number of heathland birds has increased in the area after a decline in prior years.
These changes have yet to be fully analysed and compared with the development of heathland bird populations elsewhere in the Þingeyjarsýsla area. The Nature Research Centre believes that monitoring should continue for the next few years to confirm the reliability of the results.
Fish population in Þjórsá
Research on the stock size and migration patterns of salmon in the Þjórsá River is conducted in collaboration with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute and has been ongoing for the last few years. Landsvirkjun operates seven power stations in the Þjórsá area. The generation infrastructure covers an area from the Hofsjökull Glacier and down to Búrfell Stations I and II.
The results should give an effective estimate of the size of the salmon stock. Extensive knowledge on the connection between net fishing and stock size will make it easier to monitor any changes in stock size as net fishing numbers can offer a baseline.
The Þjórsá River is primarily a net fishing river and stock size is currently under evaluation using methods outlined by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute. Migrating juveniles are microchipped in the Kálfá River, one of Þjórsá’s tributaries, before beginning their migration to the sea. Data is then compared with the number of returned salmon that have either been caught or have passed through the fish ladder in Kálfá. Microchipping began in 2012.
The fish ladder in Kálfa covers the breadth of the river (bank to bank) and all fish therefore pass through the counter. Photographs of the fish show whether they are microchipped or not. Data on the total number of migrating fish in Kálfá and the number of microchipped fish as well as data on the total catch in Þjórsá, allows us to use simple percentage calculation to assess the total salmon stock size.
Surface emissions monitoring in geothermal areas
Landsvirkjun operates the Þeistareykir, Bjarnarflag and Krafla Geothermal Stations in the Northeast of Iceland. Extensive monitoring has been carried out in these areas for some time.
Geothermal activity can fluctuate as a result of natural causes but can also be affected by geothermal utilisation. Activity levels have been mapped and detailed research has been carried out on the distribution of geothermal energy over the last few decades, using various tools such as thermal imaging cameras. Gas flow measurements have also been conducted and samples taken from steam vents.
The groundwater in Mývatnssveit, Þeistareykir and Kelduhverfi is monitored annually to evaluate the effects of run-off water from the power stations and to measure the chemical composition of the water. Groundwater monitoring began in Mývatn in 2003 and in the Kelduhverfi area in 2007. Groundwater levels and water temperatures are recorded using a continuous monitoring device in selected groundwater wells.
Monitoring focused on Þeistareykir in 2018, where the flow of carbon dioxide through soil was measured and samples were taken from steam vents. The temperature and landscape in the Þeistareykir and Bæjarfjall Mountain areas were monitored using drones in addition to regular monitoring. The purpose of this was to clarify and evaluate any changes due to geothermal utilisation in the area. The results will provide the baseline for further monitoring in the future.
Landsvirkjun monitors hydrogen sulphide levels in geothermal utilisation areas.
Geothermal emissions such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S) are released at the surface in geothermal areas, both as a result of a natural cycle and utilisation. Landsvirkjun continually monitors the concentration of hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere of the Þeistareykir and Myvatn areas. Real-time, 24 hour monitoring results can be accessed on Landsvirkjun’s webpage:
The results show that the concentration of hydrogen sulphide increased temporarily in the Mývatn area due to cold and frost spells. A research project was launched in 2018 to analyse the distribution of hydrogen sulphide under these conditions.