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Time in Iceland

Time in Iceland
Time zoneGreenwich Mean Time
InitialsGMT
UTC offsetUTC±00:00
Standard meridianPrime meridian (Greenwich)
Time notation24-hour clock
Adopted7 April 1968
Daylight saving time
DST not observed
tz database
Atlantic/Reykjavik
Time in Europe:
Light Blue Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Blue Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Western European Summer Time / British Summer Time / Irish Standard Time (UTC+1)
Red Central European Time (UTC+1)
Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)
Yellow Eastern European Time / Kaliningrad Time (UTC+2)
Ochre Eastern European Time (UTC+2)
Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3)
Green Moscow Time / Turkey Time (UTC+3)
Turquoise Armenia Time / Azerbaijan Time / Georgia Time / Samara Time (UTC+4)
 Pale colours: Standard time observed all year
 Dark colours: Summer time observed

Iceland observes UTC±00:00 year-round, known as Greenwich Mean Time or Western European Time. UTC±00:00 was adopted on 7 April 1968 – in order for Iceland to be in sync with Europe – replacing UTC−01:00, which had been the standard time zone since 16 November 1907. Iceland previously observed daylight saving time, moving the clock forward one hour, between 1917 and 1921, and 1939 and 1968. The start and end dates varied, as decided by the government. Between 1941 and 1946, daylight saving time commenced on the first Sunday in March and ended in late October, and between 1947 and 1967 it commenced on the first Sunday in April, in all instances since 1941 occurring and ending at 02:00. Since 1994, there have been an increasing number of proposals made to the Althing to reintroduce daylight saving time for a variety of reasons, but all such proposals and resolutions have been rejected.

Most of Iceland lies within the geographical UTC−01:00 offset, including the capital Reykjavík, while the westernmost points of Iceland located west of 22.5° West, including Ísafjörður, lie within the geographical UTC−02:00 offset. Despite this, Iceland observes UTC±00:00 in order to be in sync with Europe, which results in noon being 88 minutes behind other countries in the same offset. Health experts have argued that this gives Icelandic teenagers social jet lag as the daylight is a misalignment of biological and social time, which consequently results in detrimental health effects. Despite this, however, the government released a statement in 2020 announcing they will not be switching time zones.

History

As Iceland has no international borders nor a railway system, there was no need for a standard time zone across the country. Cities and localities in Iceland were free to pick to observe any time zone they wished, usually based on their mean solar time. This changed at the beginning of the 20th century, with the foundation of Iceland's national telephone company, Landssíminn, in 1906, which allowed for near real-time communication. Accordingly, a law was passed in the Althing on 16 November 1907 stipulating that UTC−01:00 be adopted as the national time zone of Iceland. This was chosen as the majority of Iceland, and particularly the capital Reykjavík, is geographically located within said offset.[1][2]

Daylight saving time, which moved the clock forward one hour to UTC±00:00, was first attempted between 1917 and 1921.[2] The start and end dates varied, as decided by the government.[3] Daylight saving time was again reintroduced between 1939 and 1968.[2] Between 1941 and 1946, daylight saving time commenced on the first Sunday in March and ended in late October, and between 1947 and 1967 it commenced on the first Sunday in April. In all instances since 1941, daylight saving time commenced at 02:00 and ended at 02:00.[3]

Abolishment of daylight saving time and adoption of UTC±00:00

In 1968, astronomers Traustur Einarsson and Þorsteinn Sæmundsson from the University of Iceland made a proposal to the Althing to abolish daylight saving time and adopt UTC±00:00 year-round.[4] They argued that the observation of daylight saving time confused the scheduling times of aircraft in international flights, caused unnecessary work as all clocks had to be reset, disrupted people's sleep patterns – especially infants – and in general caused confusion, irritation and extra hassle to Icelanders.[5] They were not arguing against UTC±00:00, however, but rather against the moving of clocks back and forth as it created the aforementioned inconveniences. Thus, they proposed observing UTC±00:00 year-round as it would "eliminate all of the above problems, but would still preserve the benefits of summer time", such as being better in sync with Europe – making international trading and telephone calls easier – and allowing for more daylight.[1][5] The Althing agreed with this proposal, and on 5 April 1968 passed a law stipulating that daylight saving time be abolished and the national time zone be set to UTC±00:00.[5] The law came into effect on 7 April.[6] Since 1994 and most recently in 2019, there have been an increasing number of proposals made to the Althing to reintroduce daylight saving time for a variety of reasons, however all such proposals and resolutions have been rejected.[7]

Proposals to switch to UTC−01:00

In 2014, Björg Þorleifsdóttir, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland, noted in 2014 that humans' circadian rhythms, which regulate the human sleep–wake cycle, are naturally determined by the solar time of their location. As Iceland does not observe its geographical offset, this leads to disturbed sleep cycles, in turn giving Icelanders – particularly teenagers – social jet lag, resulting in detrimental health effects.[8][9][10] In November 2017, a work group under the Ministry of Health (which also included Björg) began conducting research into her claims. In January 2018, they concluded that her claims were factually correct and that Iceland should switch its time zone back to UTC−01:00.[11][12] Public opinion was also in favour of switching to UTC−01:00: in December 2019, a survey conducted by RÚV showed 56 percent of 1,600 respondents supported the proposed change.[13] However, in 2020, the government released a statement announcing that they would not be switching time zones.[11] They noted that changing time zones would reduce daylight hours during waking hours by 13%, which could lead to a reduction in exercise and outdoor activities.[14]

Geography and solar time

Midnight sun (or rather twilight) in Iceland during the summer
This map shows the difference between legal time and local mean time in Iceland. Iceland is significantly ahead of local solar time as it observes UTC±00:00 instead of the geographical UTC−01:00 or UTC−02:00.

Most of Iceland lies within the geographical UTC−01:00 offset, including the capital Reykjavík, while the westernmost points of Iceland located west of 22.5° West, including Ísafjörður and the Keflavík International Airport, lie within the geographical UTC−02:00 offset.[15][16][17] Despite this, Iceland observes UTC±00:00 in order to be in sync with Europe, which results in noon being an hour behind other countries in the same offset, for example 88 minutes behind London.[15] Midnight sun in Iceland can be experienced in summer on the island of Grímsey off the north coast;[18] the remainder of the country, since it lies just south of the polar circle, experiences a twilight period during which the sun sets briefly, but still has around two weeks of continuous daylight during the summer.[19][20] The difference of longitude between the western (Bjargtangar; 24°32"W)[21] and easternmost (Hvalbakur; 13°16"W)[22] points of Iceland results in a difference of approximately 45 minutes of solar time.

Effects on health

As Iceland observes UTC±00:00 instead of the geographical UTC−01:00 or UTC−02:00, this results in noon being 88 minutes behind other countries in the same offset.[15] Health experts have argued that this gives Icelandic teenagers social jet lag as the daylight is a misalignment of biological and social time, which consequently results in detrimental health effects.[23] As such, several proposals have been made to transition to UTC−01:00 as the standard time zone, all of which have been rejected by the government.[11]

Time zone map showing the misalignment of Iceland's time zone

Björg Þorleifsdóttir, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland, noted in 2014 that humans' circadian rhythms, the natural internal process that regulates the human sleep–wake cycle, is naturally determined by the solar time of where a person lives. But, as Iceland does not observe its geographical position offset, this makes sunrise, noon and sunset happen an hour later than human's biological clocks indicate, which Björg argued leads to disturbed sleep cycles, in-turn giving Icelanders – particularly teenagers – social jet lag, leading to sleep deprivation, slowed reaction times, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating and more frequent mood swings. According to Björg, 35 percent of Icelanders aged between 16 and 19 experience this fatigue.[8][9][10] In January 2018, a work group under the Ministry of Health (which also included Björg) further echoed these concerns, when after a study they concluded that Iceland's peculiar position on the geographical time zone map had indeed affected Icelander's health, and in particular led to an "increased risk of illness, poorer schooling, increased depression and fatigue."[11][12][24]

The aforementioned claims have not been without criticism however. In 2019, astrophysicist Gunnlaugur Björnsson, while noting the importance of sleep, argued that changing the time zone would not fix sleep deprivation or stop its negative effects, citing "nowhere have I seen research that clock setting affects the progression or recovery of lifestyle diseases and other ailments." He argued that the prevalence of diseases came from lifestyle choices rather than a biological misalignment with a person's social time. He further claimed that "sleep research experts like to state this and seem convinced that this is correct, say 'Studies show that...'. They are usually referring to research into the effects of sleep deprivation, not to the results of systematic research into the effects of timekeeping on physical and mental health."[25] In 2020, the government released a statement announcing they will not be switching time zones.[11] They noted that changing time zones would reduce daylight hours during waking hours by 13%, which could lead to a reduction in exercise and outdoor activities.[14]

Notation

Iceland uses the 24-hour notation in writing, such as on timetables and business hours, but when speaking the 12-hour notation is commonly used.[26]

IANA time zone database

In the IANA time zone database, Iceland is given one zone in the file zone.tab – Atlantic/Reykjavik. "IS" refer's to the country's ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code. The table below displays data taken directly from zone.tab of the IANA time zone database. Columns marked with * are the columns from zone.tab itself:[27]

c.c.* coordinates* TZ* Comments UTC offset DST
IS +6409−02151 Atlantic/Reykjavik +00:00 +00:00

Computers which do not support "Atlantic/Reykjavik" may use the older POSIX syntax: TZ="GMT0".[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Fontaine, Andie (11 September 2020) "Ask An Historian: Why Is Iceland On Greenwich Mean Time?". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Sveinbjörnsdóttir, Emilía Dagný (23 April 2008) "Hvenær var hætt að skipta á milli sumar- og vetrartíma á Íslandi?" [When did the switch between summer and winter time in Iceland stop?]. (in Icelandic). Visindavefur [is]. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b Um tímareikning á Íslandi [About time calculation in Iceland]. (in Icelandic). Almanac of the University of Iceland. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  4. ^ Frumvarp til laga. [Bill to the law]. (in Icelandic). Almanac of the University of Iceland. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Hagalin, Þórhildur (5 December 2014) "Hvenær var ákveðið að Greenwich-tíminn skyldi vera staðaltími á Íslandi og með hvaða rökum?" [When was it decided that Greenwich Mean Time should be the standard time in Iceland and for what reasons?]. (in Icelandic). Visindavefur. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  6. ^ Lög um tímareikning á Íslandi [Act on time calculation in Iceland] (law) [No. 6 of 1968]. (in Icelandic). 5 April 1968. Althing – via althingi.is. "Tóku gildi 7. apríl 1968 kl. 01.00. [Entered into force on 7 April 1968 at 01.00.]". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  7. ^ Stilling klukkunnar [Clock Setting]. (in Icelandic). Almanac of the University of Iceland. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b Þorleifsdóttir, Björg (27 November 2014) "Brýnt lýðheilsumál að seinka klukkunni" [Urgent public health issue to delay the clock]. (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  9. ^ a b Staff (1 December 2014) "Will Iceland be moved into its right geographical time zone?". Iceland Magazine. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b Þorleifsdóttir, Björg (15 March 2019) "Gengur líkamsklukkan alltaf í takt við venjulega klukku?" [Does the body clock always keep pace with the normal clock?]. (in Icelandic). Vísindavefurinn. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Despite popular support, Iceland will not change its local time", 1 September 2020. Nord News. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  12. ^ a b Editorial Board, Icelandic Science Association (1 September 2018) "Hvað hefur vísindamaðurinn Björg Þorleifsdóttir rannsakað?" [What has the scientist Björg Þorleifsdóttir researched?]. (in Icelandic). Vísindavefurinn. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  13. ^ "56% vilja seinka klukkunni um klukkutíma" [56% want to delay the clock by an hour]. (in Icelandic). RÚV, 11 December 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  14. ^ a b Prime Minister's Office; Ministry of Education and Children; Ministry of Health (1 September 2020) "Óbreytt klukka á Íslandi" [Unchanged clock in Iceland]. (in Icelandic). Government of Iceland – stjornarradid.is. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  15. ^ a b c Hannesson, Heimir (15 January 2014) "Ísland í röngu tímabelti" [Iceland in the wrong time zone]. (in Icelandic). Vísir.is. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  16. ^ "World Time Zone Map, corrected to August 2017". HM Nautical Almanac Office. United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. Archived from the original on 18 April 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  17. ^ "TIME ZONES and "Z" TIME (UNIVERSAL TIME)". Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. U.S. Naval Observatory. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  18. ^ Swaney, Deanna (1999) The Arctic. p. 356. Lonely Planet. ISBN 9780864426659. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  19. ^ Time & daylight. Nordic Visitor. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  20. ^ Gunnarsdóttir, Nanna: "The Complete Guide to the Midnight Sun in Iceland". Guide to Iceland. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  21. ^ Bárðarson, H.R. (1982) Iceland: A Portrait of Its Land and People. p. 197. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  22. ^ Ferðakort 1:500 000 – Ísland [Travel Map 1: 500 000 - Iceland] (map). (in Icelandic). 2021. ferdakort.is. IÐNÚ. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  23. ^ Duffy JF, Czeisler CA (June 2009). "Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology". Sleep Medicine Clinics. 4 (2): 165–177. doi:10.1016/j.jsmc.2009.01.004. PMC 2717723. PMID 20161220.
  24. ^ Working Group of the Ministry of Health (31 January 2018) "Ávinningur fyrir lýðheilsu og vellíðan landsmanna af því að leiðrétta klukkuna til samræmis við gang sólar" [Benefits for public health and well-being of the people by adjusting the clock according to the movement of the sun]. (in Icelandic). Government of Icelandstjornarradid.is. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  25. ^ Björnsson, Gunnlaugur (18 January 2019) "Er umræðan um klukkustillingu á villigötum?" [Is the discussion about changing the clock on wild streets?]. (in Icelandic). Fréttablaðið. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  26. ^ Bain, Carolyn; Averbuck, Alexis (2017) "Lonely Planet Iceland". Lonely Planet. p. 117. ISBN 9781787010499. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  27. ^ Europe at the tz database. Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  28. ^ Olson, Arthur David (22 April 2016). "[tz] Time zone selection". tz database. ICANN. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
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Time in Iceland
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