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120 Fv152
Sogn og Fjordane, 6848

+47 57 69 32 88

The Norwegian Glacier Museum offers entertainment and education for the whole family. The Norwegian Glacier Museum is a official visitor centre of the Jostedalsbreen National Park.

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Glaciers and climate

Glaciers are reacting on climate change. The monitoring of glaciers gives important information to climate research.

Glaciers and climate

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Glaciers are reacting on climate change

The monitoring of glaciers gives important information to climate research. From the ice shields of Greenland and Antarctica researchers obtain several kilometers long ice cores that contain data about the climate of the past 800 000 years back in time.

 

Can we be sure that our emissions of greenhouse gases have changed the climate?

Figure 1 shows temperature (blue line) and the amount of the greenhouse gase carbon dioxide (red line) during the last 800 000 years. It shows that the natural changes in climate occur at more or less regular intervals of approx. 100 000 years, with short and warm interglacials and long glacials or ice ages. These variations are connected to changes in the Earth's orbit, amplified through variations in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Figure 1: The figure shows how the CO2 concentration and temperature in the atmosphere has fluctuated the past 800 000 years. The data are results from research on 3,060–3,270 metres of ice cores from the Antarctic ice sheet. The figure is modified from Lüthi et.al. 2008.

Through burning of coal and petroleum products mankind has increased the amount of carbon dioxide as much as the natural difference between ice ages and interglacials, which is the equivalent to 8 °C. Hence the additional carbon dioxide can lead to additional global warming. A warmer atmosphere will in average contain more water vapour and lead to increased precipitation.


What will the changes in climate be like?

Figure 2 shows that global average temperature has increased fast since 1980. Data from 1998, 2005, 2010, 2014 and 2015 shows that these years have been the warmest in the instrumental record of global surface temperature, but 2016 is now the warmest year. The decades since 1980 has been increasingly warmer, with the last decade (2000-2010) as the warmest.

Figure 2: Global temperature 1850 - present. Climatic Research Unit.

Scientists agree on the fact that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased, and that this will lead to climate change. But there are uncertainties, since the man-made greenhouse effect occurs together with the natural effects, and these affect each other. Concerning the numerical simulation of climate, there are as well still uncertainties. We do not fully understand the driving forces of the climate, e.g. the coupling between sea and atmosphere and feedback mechanisms, such as those influenced by changes in the Earth's surface, e.g. from ice/snow cover to water.

Most of the climate researchers share the opinion today, that within the year 2050 the Earth's climate may reach a state where temperature conditions will be different from everything mankind has experienced so far in history. What life will be like on our planet then, we don't know. Regulations or adjustments might become far more difficult for us than they will be in the next few decades. But possible counter-measures against climatic changes must build on knowledge, not on fear.

Sources to man made CO2-emissions

Energy production     24 %
Industry     19 %
Forestry     17 %
Farming     14 %
Traffic     13 %
Construction     8 %
Waste disposal     3 %
Air traffic   2 %

If all the peoples of the world were to live like us, it would require the energy and resources of more than three planets ...

The climatic challenges we face will need action at several levels. The issues have to be solved through national and international leadership. What each one of us do is important - we can all with a little effort make a big difference. Here are some hints on what to do. Good luck!

At home:

  • turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • turn off all stand-by functions
  • turn down the temperature
  • install a time switch
  • use energy saving light bulbs

 

At the Office:

  • use scrap paper for notes
  • print on both sides
  • send e-mails in stead of faxes
  • turn off PC's and copy machines at the end of the day
  • use telephone meetings and video conferences

Transport:

  • use a bike or walk on shorter distances
  • drive less car or drive together with others
  • lower your speed and keep the speed limit
  • avoid air planes - take the bus or the train
  • invest in a hybrid car