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Interview
Ask An Astronomer: Do The Clocks Change In Iceland

Ask An Astronomer: Do The Clocks Change In Iceland

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Published August 1, 2017

The short answer is no. Here’s Dr Þorsteinn Sæmundsson from Almanak Háskóla Íslands (University of Iceland Almanac) with the long answer:

Daylight saving time was first introduced as an emergency measure in World War I (1916) to save fuel and make better use of the working day. The concept quickly spread from Germany across Europe in testing times, arriving in Iceland in 1917. From 1917 to 1967, daylight saving time was observed across Iceland (with a few exceptions) and the clocks were changed twice a year. In winter, they were set to keep Icelandic Standard Time (one hour behind GMT), and in the summer the clocks were moved forward to GMT. But Icelanders don’t like hassle, so in 1968 things changed.

The inconvenience of changing the clocks twice a year, as well as disruption to timetables and sleeping patterns (especially those of small children), were presented as reasons why Iceland should stop changing the clocks. The advantages however of daylight saving time during summer meant that most people in Iceland preferred advanced time (GMT) to Icelandic Standard time. In 1968, Icelandic Parliament passed a law to permanently keep GMT “summer time” by putting the clocks forward once and for all. For 25 years, there was practically no dissent. Since 1994, there have been several proposals in Parliament to reintroduce daylight saving time for various reasons (like the dark winter mornings), but they’ve all failed to pass.


Dr Þorsteinn Sæmundsson, Astronomer, Almanak Háskóla Íslands


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