Norway Norway Norway Norway

Previously in ClimateChangePost


Based on a presentation by Grete Hovelsrud (Nord University) at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

Based on a presentation by Juan-Carlos Antuna-Marrero and Michel dos Santos Mesquita at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

Based on a presentation by Per Sanderud and a discussion with Hege Hisdal and Christina Beisland of NVE at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

Presented by Richard Klein (Stockholm Environment Institute) at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

The prolongation and intensification of the thermal growing season offers several benefits for northern European forestry and agriculture. In southern Europe, negative impacts dominate.

less snow and more rain will change the magnitude and frequency of rainfall versus snowmelt driven floods in Norway. In fact, this is already happening.

In a warmer future climate, Western Europe will see larger impacts from severe Autumn storms. Not only their frequency will increase, but also their intensity and the area they affect.

How much sea level rise is to be expected at the upper limit of current IPCC scenarios? This question has been dealt with for northern Europe

In high-latitude regions of the Earth, temperatures have risen 0.6 °C per decade, twice as fast as the global average. The resulting thaw of frozen ground

There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature

By the 2020s, the main beneficiary of the warming climate appears to be Finland, where the number of good months is projected to rise by one month

Projected twenty-first century sea-level changes in Norway are below the global mean: between -0.2 to 0.3 m. According to a high-end scenario of 6°C global warming they ...

A longer growing season with higher mean temperatures will enable farmers to increase the number of harvests and, due to the higher growth potential at higher temperature, the total yield per area.

Trans-Arctic navigation is likely to remain a summertime phenomenon. The Arctic marine environment is likely to be fully or partially ice-covered 6–8 months each year

Potential grass yield in Northern Europe is projected to increase in 2050 compared with 1960–1990, mainly as a result of increased growing temperatures.

Climatic changes might amplify existing trends in recreation activities, resulting in more disturbance and further deterioration of wild mountain reindeer summer and winter habitats.

Severe hurricane-force (> 32.6 m/s) storms can cause floods in west-European coastal regions and inflict large-scale damage on infrastructure and agriculture.

It is reasonable to conclude that Arctic sea ice loss is very likely to occur in the first rather than the second half of the 21st century, with a possibility of loss within a decade or two.

Data for the period 1957 to 2010 show that the intensity of strong precipitation events has increased in most parts of the country ...

Mean and extreme wind speeds in Northern Europe have been projected for the future periods 2046–2065 and 2081–2100 ...


I recommend

National plans/strategies for Norway

  • Norway's Sixth National Communication under the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important Norwegian topics

  • Arctic: ACIA ( 2004). Impacts of a warming Arctic. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Download (in parts or entire report).
  • Cultural-historical heritage: Weladji and Holand (2006). Influences of large-scale climatic variability on reindeer population dynamics: implications for reindeer husbandry in Norway. Download.
  • Energy: Gabrielsen (2005). Climate change and the future Nordic electricity market - Supply, demand, trade and transmission. Download.
  • River floods: Lawrence and Hisdal (2011). Hydrological projections for floods in Norway under a future climate. Download.
  • Storms: Keim et al. (2004). Spatial and temporal variability of coastal storms in the North Atlantic Basin. Download.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Quante, M. and F. Colijn (eds), 2016. North Sea Region climate change assessment NOSCCA. Regional Climate Studies, Springer Nature, 555 pp. Download.
  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topics, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

EU funded Research Projects




Climate change scenarios

Coastal areas

Droughts and water scarcity



Fresh water resources



Mitigation / adaptation options and costs

Security and Crisis management

Transport, Infrastructure and Building

Urban areas

Cultural-historical heritage Norway

Indigenous communities are facing major economic and cultural impacts. Many Indigenous Peoples depend on hunting polar bear, walrus, seals, and caribou, herding reindeer, fishing and gathering, not only for food and to support the local economy, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity (1). For Norway especially reindeer husbandry is an important part of the historical-cultural heritage.

Reindeer husbandry

In Norway, reindeer are herded over an area of approximately 140,000 km2 (about 40% of the country). In 2005, about 2400 persons owned herds, constituting about 230,000 reindeer (2). The ‘Norwegian Reindeer Herding Act’ provides the Saami exclusive right to practice reindeer husbandry (3).

It is clearly shown that local and global climate affect reindeer directly (e.g. increased energetic costs of moving through deep snow and in accessing forage through snow) and indirectly (e.g. effect on forage plant biomass and quality, level of insect harassment and associated parasitism). It is, however, difficult to predict a general pattern of how future climate change will influence reindeer husbandry (an important economic and cultural activity for the Saami People) in Norway. This is because of several reasons (3):

  • patterns in life history traits and population parameters of reindeer vary over space and time;
  • both temperature and precipitation will increase in Norway, with greater changes in the North, i.e. the areas with reindeer husbandry, but the rate of increase will vary with space and seasons;
  • there are several indirect effects of global warming that can complicate the ecological response, especially involving the response of vegetation (e.g. forage on which reindeer depend);
  • spatial variation, seasonality, complexity of the ecosystem functioning and nonlinearity of ecological processes make any firm prediction uncertain.

The level of income for reindeer herders (from reindeer husbandry) is generally low in Norway; hence the industry is vulnerable to extrinsic factors such as climate change. The main source of income is commercial meat production. The industry also serves as a cultural basis and producer of raw materials for Saami handicraft. The reindeer industry therefore has a profound importance for the cultural identity of the Saami people (4).

The increase in precipitation is projected to be significant in all regions of Norway except the southeast. Significant increase in autumn precipitation is projected along the western coast of Norway, while a significant increase in winter precipitation is projected in southern parts of the country (5). A reduction in winter snow-cover in the lowlands all over Norway, and an increase in the high mountains are projected, at least up to 2050 (6).

In warm winters, precipitation may fall at the coast in the form of rain rather than snow, and such reduction in snow cover will increase the winter forage accessibility and will probably favor the winter coastal-adapted reindeer husbandry along the coast south of Finnmark. On the other hand, the projected increase in snowfall in higher elevated and mountainous areas may be harmful for those reindeer spending winters there, as access to lichen, their major winter forage, will be reduced.

Climate change will also lead to an increase in freezing rain and freeze-thaw cycles (1). These cycles will increase the frequency of icing at higher elevations and reduce the winter forage accessibility, thereby amplifying the negative effect of increased snow accumulation, and could reduce the winter carrying capacity, both in Finnmark and the southern reindeer herding areas.

Overall, reindeer husbandry in Finnmark, where production per head in most of the area is generally low and highly fluctuating (2), may benefit from the ongoing warming trend through an improved summer and autumn condition. Moreover, mushrooms are an important food source for reindeer during autumn (7) and may increase in abundance due to improved conditions for growth in wet late summers.

The predicted increase in growing season could also promote the expansion of agriculture in northern Fennoscandia. The ultimate limiting factor for the reindeer industry is access to grazing lands. Historically, agricultural settlements played a major role in displacing reindeer herders from their land (8). Additional changes in patterns of land use due to global warming include forestry, agricultural and industrial development, and expansion of tourism development. These all impose potential constraints on reindeer.

Reindeer lichens have decreased (9). This could lead to a reduction in the quality of winter pastures for reindeer, and thus negatively affect reindeer husbandry. However, reindeer have evolved in highly seasonal, stochastic, and limiting natural environments, with low productivity. Therefore, reindeer may certainly overcome some of the stress caused by a shift to a more productive environment, unless out-competed by some of the more southerly forest dwelling species such as moose Alces alces, red deer Cervus elaphus or roe deer Capreolus capreolus that have already expanded north during the last decades (10).

There may be some compensation for adverse effects in one season by beneficial effects in other seasons, so that the average effect on an annual basis is not necessarily harmful.

Although reindeer are easy to herd and habituate quickly to new environments, climate change may constrain the original nomadic migration pattern and trigger new and local adaptations, including revision of district range boundaries.

Wild mountain reindeer in Hardangervidda National Park

Europe’s largest population of wild mountain reindeer is in Hardangervidda National Park, Norway. The Hardangervidda plateau is situated in the south-western Scandes halfway between Oslo and Bergen in Norway. In the past four decades, the reindeer population has fluctuated between 26,000 and 6,000 individuals, followed by a marked decline down to 4,296 reindeer in 2003 (11).

Climatic changes might amplify existing trends in recreation activities, resulting in more disturbance and further deterioration of wild mountain reindeer summer and winter habitats. The summer season is expected to extend and temperatures to increase. In consequence, the use of existing infrastructure (e.g. hiking trails and mountain lodges) and related disturbance levels will intensify. This trend might also result in new infrastructure developments that affect migration routes and lead to further isolation of summer habitats. In winter, Hardangervidda will turn into a more reliable area for winter sports than lower-lying regions which might bring more tourists to Hardangervidda (11).

Wild mountain reindeer conservation should be focused on already occurring and intensifying problems like hunting, infrastructure development, and recreation. Measures to minimize risk factors should include an educative programme on the code of conduct for hunters, tourists, and tourism enterprises to minimize disturbance. Contingency plans and emergency services need to be provided to alleviate existing pressures like habitat fragmentation. Emergency actions should include a strict protection of sensitive habitats (e.g. breeding grounds) and migration routes. This could also include the spatial and temporal exclusion of visitors. To remediate damages and infrastructure in sensitive habitats and at important migration, routes should be deconstructed or displaced (11).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Norway.

  1. ACIA (2004)
  2. Reindriftsforvaltningen (2005), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  3. Weladji and Holand (2006)
  4. Paine (1994), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  5. Hanssen-Bauer et al. (2003), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  6. Roald et al. (2002), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  7. Staaland and Nieminen (1993), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  8. Fjellheim (1999), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  9. Tømmerik et al. (2004), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  10. Mysterud (2000), in: Weladji and Holand (2006)
  11. Rannow, S. (2013)

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