Research in Melrakkaslétta: The effects of hunting on the behaviour of rock ptarmigan

Farina out in the field

Since Rif Field Station was founded in 2014, a growing number of scientists visit Raufarhöfn and Melrakkaslétta every year to carry out their research in this sub-Arctic environment. Farina Sooth, a German PhD student, is one of them. She first visited Rif Field Station in 2016 and returned in the spring of 2018 to continue to collect data and work on her dissertation. Farina studies rock ptarmigan, Lagopus muta, which in Icelandic is called rjúpa, and the effects of hunting on the behaviour of the birds. As is the case with other birds hunted by humans, the ptarmigan avoids humans and swiftly flies off when they approach. The rock ptarmigan is hunted in and around Melrakkaslétta.

Here is what Farina herself had to say about her research and stay at Rif Field Station:

“A major part of my PhD project is to look into the effects of hunting on the disturbance susceptibility of rock ptarmigan. As a measure of disturbance susceptibility, I use flushing distance measurements. Because rock ptarmigans are hunted in the area around Raufarhöfn, but not hunted in Skaftafell and recently not hunted around Reykjavík, flushing rock ptarmigan in those areas and comparing the flight initiation distances of the birds will hopefully help answering the question if hunting has a long-term impact on the disturbance susceptibility of the birds.


The RIF research centre has not just been a great “base camp” for my data collection, my time there was also really nice from a personal perspective. The small town and the surrounding landscape, the transition of the land and the sea and the solitude while out hiking have been wonderful to see and to experience.”

Rif Field Station wishes Farina the best of luck with finalising her dissertation and we are happy to have had the chance to support her during her research. Rif will follow up on the outcome of her research.

All pictures taken by Farina Sooth, used with her permission.


Projects in 2018: Call for applications now open!

Are you developing an exciting research project for 2018 that could fit perfectly within the unique environment of Melrakkaslétta or the surrounding area? Don’t hesitate to contact us and see what we are all about!

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Reminder: INTERACT Transnational Access Call is open!

INTERACT Transnational Access Call is open for projects taking place between March 2018 and April 2019

The EU H2020 funded INTERACT (International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic) project opens a call for research groups to apply for Transnational Access to 43 research stations across the Arctic and northern alpine and forest areas in Europe, Russia and North-America.  The sites represent a variety of glacier, mountain, tundra, boreal forest, peatland and freshwater ecosystems, providing opportunities for researchers from natural sciences to human dimension.

Transnational Access includes free access (either physical or remote) for user groups/users to research facilities and field sites, including support for travel and logistic costs. Rif Field Station is one of the stations offering physical access and we are looking forward to receiving researchers with exciting new projects next year.

The call for applications is open on 1st September –  13th October, 2017, for projects taking place between March 2018 and April 2019. You can find the TA call information, stations available in the call, descriptions of stations and their facilities, and registration to the INTERACCESS on-line application system from the INTERACT website http://www.eu-interact.org/.

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Attention scientists: Call for applications now open

Rif Field Station now calls for applications from scientists and researchers interested in utilising the station’s facilities and research area for various research and monitoring projects in 2017. 

More information is available in the advertisement below or in the “Applications” section at the top of our website. For additional questions and comments please contact Rif’s station manager Jónína Sigríður Þorláksdóttir, Tel. +(354) 856 9500 or send an email to rif@nna.is.

Here you can find a PDF version of the advertisement, including active links.


INTERACT phase II Kick-off meeting in Iceland

The first meeting of  INTERACT  (International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic) in 2017 was held in Keflavík, Iceland on January 24th to 27th. The meeting marks the kick-off of INTERACT phase II, but the project has been funded through the Horizon2020 program of the European Union. The project, it’s 9 different work packages and the coordination between them was introduced and discussed during the meeting.

Rif Field Station will take part in three work packages (WP) within INTERACT phase II, no. 3,5 and 7. WP 3 is the Station Manager’s Forum – a communication and consulting platform for station managers. WP 5 is dedicated to Transnational Access of scientists to different stations within the network. Rif has already gotten noticeable attention and interesting applications  for 2017 through this package. Last but not least, Rif is part of WP 7, which revolves around improving and harmonising biodiversity monitoring. This project is managed by CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) and is based on the (Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP). Along with Rif Field Station, two other stations participate in this package; the Cambridge Bay station in Canada and the  Zackenberg station in Greenland. These three stations will work together on the implementation of the CBMP terrestrial and freshwater monitoring components, with Rif serving as a model on how to successfully build up such a monitoring plan from scratch.  The project is very important for the increase and enhancement of ecological research and monitoring, both domestically and internationally. It is also in good harmony with Iceland’s policies and commitments regarding these matters. 

Below are pictures from the meeting, but along with discussing the project itself and its components, the group went on an excursion along the Reykjanes peninsula. The facilities and operations of the Suðurnes Science and Learning Centre were also introduced. The centre, which is also a member of INTERACT, hosted the Kick-off meeting in Keflavík.

IPTRN conference in Raufarhöfn, August 30th to September 2nd 2016

The IPTRN conference that was held here in Raufarhöfn  is now formally over, with the 50 polar tourism researchers that have been with us here for the last few days starting their journey home this morning. Everything has gone according to plan and the event has been filled with useful information, exchange of ideas, thoughts and good advise.

Big thank you to all of the people in the area that made this happen – the conference guests were extremely happy about the hospitality, the place itself and the positive attitude and energy they found at every step. We can be sure to see many of them again here in the not so distant future!

Funding from the Northeast Iceland Development fund

Last Wednesday, May 18th, the Northeast Iceland development fund (Uppbyggingarsjóður Norðurlands eystra) held a formal grant awarding ceremony in Breiðamýri, Reykjadalur. A large group of people attended, many of them who were receiving a grant to work on exciting projects, both involving innovation and economic activies as well as cultural projects and events.

We are very glad to inform you that Rif Field Station is one of the projects that was rewarded a grant at this time, and we are looking forward to put this important funding to good use in the further development of the station and its operations. Thus, we greet the summer full of optimism, ready for the many exciting projects ahead here in Raufarhöfn and Melrakkaslétta.

Jónína project manager (to the right) received the grant certificate on behalf of Rif. With her on the picture is Ingibjörg Hanna Sigurðardóttir, who received a grant on behalf of the project „Raufarhöfn and the future“.

Happy New Year!

Even though it still looks a bit like Christmas, the days are growing longer here in Raufarhöfn, just like elsewhere in Iceland. Therefore it is definitely time for Rif Field Station’s only employee to return – and we are happy to say that she will be staying with us for the rest of 2016! To celebrate the good news, the town and its harbour decided to put on their best winter coat for today.