Climate change

Svalbard shows climate change

The European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik, visited the arctic island group Svalbard in July and commented on climate change; – Seeing is believing, he said, after observing how the glaciers are melting.

31/07/2007 ::

Svalbard plays an important role in the international Polar Year (2007-2008), housing scientists from ten different countries: Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, China, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. 52 international projects will involve activities at Svalbard during the Polar Year.

The visiting group also included Norwegian Minister of Education and Research, Øystein Djupedal, Head of Delegation of the EU to Norway and Iceland, Percy Westerlund, representatives from the DG responsible for Science, Research and Development and journalists.

During a boat ride to the glacier Kongsbreen the group witnessed how the glacier has been withdrawing the last couple of years – which is no surprise, as the temperature in Svalbard has increased with five degrees Celsius during the last ten to fifteen years.

– Unique natural laboratory

On his web site, Janez Potocnik also pointed out how Svalbard experiences new species arriving while other face extinction because of the climate change. But the Commissioner for Science and Research was  pleased with the scientistic environment at Svalbard.

– The trip not only confirmed that climate change is a reality and one we need to deal with sooner rather than later, it also showed that science really does reach across national and political borders and bring people together, Potocnik said;

Svalbard really is a unique natural laboratory not only in terms of the science being done there, but for the way in which it brings together scientists from across the world and connects them.

The group also visited dinosaur researcher Jørn Hurum and the international EISCAT radar which is used to study the northern light among other things.

A group of islands, under Norwegian sovereignty, in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Europe. The total area is 61 022 km2 and the population 2 756 (2004). Three islands are populated: Spitsbergen, Bjørnøya and Hopen. The largest settlement is in the capital Longyearbyen.



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Potocnik and Djupedal in front of the EISCAT radar.Photo: Tore Grønningsæter / the Mission of Norway to the EU

Less ice might result in no polar bears at Svalbard.Photo: Tore Grønningsæter / the Mission of Norway to the EU