We congratulate our NORDRESS partners, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Deanne Bird & Emmanuel Pagneux who recently published the research article What can we learn from previous generations? Álftaver´s experience of the 1918 Katla eruption in Jökli.

Abstract — Residents in Álftaver are very familiar with the 1918 Katla eruption, which caused rapid and
catastrophic glacial outburst flooding of the area. Descriptions of the 1918 events, passed down by older
generations, have become an important part of the collective memory. Based on oral and written history, this
paper provides a vivid account, including detailed maps, of what people experienced and felt during the 1918
Katla eruption. It also considers how these experiences influence current-day perceptions and the impact this
may have on behaviour in relation to emergency response strategies. Until now, much of this history has only
been accessible in Icelandic text and through oral stories. The aim of this paper is to unlock these stories
for an international audience in an effort to advance understanding of volcanic eruptions and their impacts
and, inform future emergency planning. Importantly, these descriptions tell us about the nature of the glacial
outburst flood, with a ‘pre-flood’ devoid of ice and travelling at a much faster rate than the ice-laden main
flood. As a future eruption of Katla may impact Álftaver, emergency response plans for glacial outburst floods
were developed, and in March 2006 preliminary plans were tested in a full-scale evacuation exercise involving
residents and emergency response groups. But Álftaver residents questioned the plans and were reluctant to
follow evacuation orders during the exercise, as they felt their knowledge and the experience of their relatives
during the 1918 Katla eruption, had not been taken into consideration. Residents were concerned that flood
hazards, as well as tephra and lightning, were not appropriately accounted for by officials. In response to
residents’ concerns, officials developed an alternative evacuation plan (Plan B) that builds on some of the
experience and knowledge of Álftaver residents. However, residents were not involved in the development of
‘Plan B’ and they are not aware of what it constitutes or when it is to be implemented. This paper argues that
more needs to be done to promote inclusive dialogue and the co-production of knowledge to ensure emergency
response strategies adequately reflect and accommodate local knowledge, perspectives and planned behaviour.