Organisms & environment
Investigate the relationship between organisms and the varying environments found in Iceland. From open oceans to glaciers, volcanoes to rivers and urban and rural areas, a vast array of different habitats are populated.
Evolution, adaptation & natural selection
Study the micro-organisms living in the hostile environment of geothermal hot springs. Explore the evolution of the Arctic Charr from one species to four sub-species at Lake Thingvallavatn, an instance found nowhere else on Earth. Observe a plethora of cetaceans from the white beaked dolphin to the blue whale and uncover an array of birdlife including waterfowl, waders and a wide variety of sea birds (season dependent).
Ecosystems & relationships in ecosystems
With contrasting extreme environments, Iceland provides different examples of ecological succession. Study changes in plant species distribution at varying distances from a glacier or from a hot spring. Explore the interdependence of organisms in a thermal hot spring ecosystem. Learn about the food webs and how the organisms are affected by and adapted to their environment.
Biodiversity & sampling techniques
Examine the varying habitats and ecosystems which support organisms in Iceland. How are these similar to or different from those in the UK? Why is biodiversity important?
Conservation & maintaining biodiversity
Visit the soil conservation service to learn about their work in combatting widespread erosion and their work with local farmers to re-introduce plant and crop species to protect the landscape. The Horticultural University’s Hveragerdi campus undertakes studies on crop production and in growing tropical plants in geothermal heated greenhouses.
Almost all life on Earth depends on the ability of photosynthetic organisms. Compare different ecosystems to understand that photosynthesis is the key process for food production to support food webs.
Learn about classification of species and undertake fieldwork to identify different species and measure the distribution and abundance of species within a habitat.
Hot springs in Iceland are being studied in the hope of discovering unique and unknown species of microorganisms. Enzymes isolated from thermophilic bacteria have found a number of interesting applications in the biotechnology industry.
Energy for biological processes
Biological processes require energy. This may come from sunlight, from stored chemical energy or the ambient temperature of the environment. Compare where organisms in different environments obtain their energy and how they use it.
Examine the varying sources of water in Iceland, from glacial melt water to geothermal water emerging from the bedrock.
As Iceland is geologically young, there has been relatively little erosion and volcanic, igneous rock is dominant. However, around 10% of Iceland’s volume is sedimentary. Compare rock types during your trip, and marvel at the geometric basalt columns on the southern beaches. At Thingvellir, see the clear tectonic plate boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates; watch the geyser at Strokkur erupt under pressure from beneath the earth’s surface.
Climate change & atmospheric science
Visit glaciers to witness first-hand the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. A trip to a geothermal power station will reveal the advantages of renewable energy sources are a ‘green’ solution to our energy requirements.
Measure the abiotic factors at various hot springs and compare the different types of microorganisms. With varying temperatures and PH levels, these geothermal features provide unique habitats for diverse groups of thermophilic life.
The aurora appear when solar wind particles collide with molecules in the earth’s atmosphere, transferring their energy into light. Displays can vary in intensity – from a hint of pulsating green to a spectacular multicoloured fusion stretching across the sky. Learn about the physics behind this mesmerising phenomenon and marvel at the clear night skies which offer unrivalled views of the stars around us.
Seasons on earth
Travel to Iceland away from the vernal (March) and autumnal (September) equinoxes and you’ll experience the impact of the earth’s tilt on seasons. Travel between May and July to witness longer days, or travel in February for longer nights.
Iceland plans to become the world’s first hydrogen economy, eventually using 100% renewable energy. Take a guided tour of a geothermal power station and a hydroelectric station; plus join a whale watching trip on a hydrogen fuelled boat! Also learn how Iceland is ingeniously using geothermal energy to grow exotic fruits and plants.
We offer a range of FSC fieldwork courses in Iceland. To read more about the courses and the links to the new science specifications, please click here.