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Norway - Climate

Owing to the high latitude of Norway the climate is rigorous; but owing to its great extent from N. to S. it is also very varied. In the N. the mean annual temperature is below freezing point; and it is warmer in the W. than in the E. owing to the warm ocean currents which wash the W. shores. The winters are long and severe, intense frost prevailing in the N. parts from October to April, and snow covering the ground from September to April. The summers, which last but two months, July and August, are exceedingly hot, in consequence of the long time the sun is above the horizon.

According to the broad political agreement in 2012 on climate change, the aim is that Norway will be carbon-neutral in 2050. As part of an ambitious global climate agreement where other developed nations also undertake ambitious commitments, Norway will adopt a binding goal of carbon neutrality no later than in 2030. This means that Norway will commit to achieving emission reductions abroad equivalent to Norwegian emissions in 2030. Norway’s long term goal is to become a low emission society by 2050. the Ministry of Climate and Environment that has chief responsibility for the Government’s environmental policy. Environmental policy cuts across ministerial boundaries and involves issues that are the responsibility of several different ministries.

The Norwegian economy, environment and society are vulnerable to climate change. The Government has conducted several actions, in compliance with the requirements of UNFCCC, in order to prepare for climate change. In 2010, an Official Norwegian Report NOU 2010:10 Adapting to a changing climate was published. In this report, a committee appointed by the Government assessed Norway’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change and the need to adapt.

Norway is a sub-Arctic country with a long and convoluted coastline combined with a long mountain chain facing a relatively warm ocean surface to the west. This results in large geographical contrasts in the present climatic conditions as well as in the projections of future climate change. These contrasts are found both from coast to inland and mountainous regions, from north to south and not least from the Norwegian mainland to the Arctic islands (Spitsbergen, Bear Island and Jan Mayen).

For the Norwegian mainland, the greatest change in annual mean temperature is estimated for the northern parts of Norway, where the warming is approximately 6°C by the end of the 21st century. For Western Norway the estimated warming is considerably lower with a median value close to the global average estimate of 3.7°C. A general trend is that the projected warming is greater for winter (DJF) than for summer (JJA) season. This trend is more pronounced inland than along the coast; and more pronounced in the north than in the south.

Heavy rainfall is defined as the 99.5th percentile for 24-hour precipitation, i.e. the amount of rainfall that is expected to be exceeded approximately twice a year on annual basis. The projections indicate an increase of days with heavy rainfall for all season and all regions. Due to the large range in the projections it cannot be ruled out that the number of days with heavy rainfall will more than double by the end of the century.

Landslides are separated into earth slides (including flood slides), rockslides and quick clay slides. Avalanches are – depending on the water content in the snow – separated into dry and wet snow avalanches and slush slides. Landslides and avalanches mostly occur in steep terrain (except quick clay slides) but the weather is one of the main triggering factors, and hence, climate change will affect their frequency. In particular, more wet snow avalanches and earth, flood and slush slides can be expected.

Future sea-level rise will cause an increase in the height of extreme sea-level episodes (e.g. storm surges). Owing to this, coastal areas already exposed to storm surges will experience a large increase in the frequency of inundation.

Higher temperatures causing earlier snowmelt and higher evaporation losses during the summer season may lead to reduced river flow, more severe soil moisture deficits and lower groundwater levels even in regions where summer precipitation is expected to increase. This will result in more severe summer droughts. Expected climate change under the high emission scenario will have a large impact on the area and volume of glaciers in Norway towards the end of the century. For larger glaciers, a reduction of up to 2/3 of the area and volume they have today is expected, such that remaining glaciers will be significantly smaller and will only be found at higher altitudes. The smaller glaciers will disappear (completely melt).

The north, particularly from Finnmark County and northwards, and alpine areas are especially vulnerable to climate change. Part of the Sámi population in the north derives its livelihood from natural resources, and Sámi culture is therefore vulnerable to the impact of climate change on nature.

On the calendar, Scandinavian summer starts on June 21 in 2008, but summer temperatures had already settled over much of northern Europe by early June. The intense heat and dry weather led to dangerous fire conditions in Scandinavia. Both Norway and Sweden were plagued with several forest fires in early June. A fire that burned for several days in southern Norway was the largest in the country’s history, causing an estimated ten million dollars worth of damage,

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Page last modified: 21-11-2018 12:19:11 ZULU