After 1815 there was increasing interest in exploration of the polar regions, and scientists also felt a growing need for international collaboration in fields studying global phenomena, such as in meteorology and geomagnetism. By 1880 it was realized that regular series of observations in the polar areas might be of more value for science than sporadic results from brief expeditions. This led to the first International Polar Year 1882-83, during which much effort was spent on establishing research stations in the Arctic. No stations were set up in Iceland at this time. In the next few decades, however, many meteorologists in Europe turned their attention to the Iceland region as an important "center of action" in the generation of Europe's weather, and meteorological expeditions were sent to Iceland and Greenland.
By 1930, regular trans-Atlantic air communications via Iceland were becoming an attractive possibility and were a prime reason behind the organizing of a new Polar Year effort half a century after the first one.
In the Second International Polar Year, a field station was erected at 820 m altitude near the Snæfellsjökull glacier in Western Iceland by Danish and Swiss institutions in collaboration with the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The station was in operation for 10 months, collecting meteorological and other geophysical data as well as running a short-wave radio transmitter.
Also in 1923-33, Dutch meteorologists collected valuable data on atmospheric conditions over Reykjavik by two biplanes and balloon observations. German scientists made extensive meteorological and oceanographic observations in the Iceland area, in close connection with the 1932-33 Polar Year activities. Additionally, geomagnetic variations were recorded by Th. Thorkelsson in Reykjavik for a while at this time, but a permanent magnetic observatory was not set up in Iceland until 1957.