Erik Solheim UN Environment Executive Director

Erik Solheim is the Executive Director of UN Environment (UN Environment, 2017)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Alex Gray, Formative Content

Think of Norway and you probably picture pristine fjords, snow-capped mountains and decidedly chilly temperatures.

But this summer, you’re more likely to see tourists flocking to the the fjords in baking sunshine and bikinis.

Image: @Meteorologene

Like many parts of the world, Norway has been gripped by a fierce heatwave.

Wildfires

A map showing Fire Danger Forecast, with darker areas showing higher danger
Image: Global Wildfire Information System Viewer

The UK, Scandinavia, eastern Canada, parts of eastern Siberia and Japan have all experienced temperatures much higher than average.

In July, extreme heat set new all-time records in northern parts of Norway, pushing temperatures over 30 degrees celsius (86℉).

The Norwegian Meteorological office showed continued high temperatures up to 40 degrees celsius (105℉) in some areas for the beginning of August.

In these tinder-dry conditions, wildfires start very easily, and a prolonged drought and gusty winds have exacerbated the problem.

In May, the warmest on record, the fire service was battling several outbreaks in up to 1,000 acres.

In July, forest fires severely disrupted rail services.

Fishing prohibited

The Gaula river, a popular salmon fishing river in Norway, has dried up
Image: @gaulasalmon

The ongoing drought has seen waterways dry up and forced one of the country’s most popular salmon fishing rivers to close.

For the first time in 70 years, the Gaula river is closed to fishing until further notice with rising water temperatures and shrinking water levels meaning the salmon are struggling to get upstream.

The shape of things to come

The Norwegian Meteorological Office warns that the country will become hotter over time.

The average temperature has increased by one degree since 1900, and by half a degree in the last 15 years alone. If the trend continues, it expects temperatures to have risen by 4.5 degrees by the end of the century. It also expects to see more heatwaves.

“At present we are increasingly seeing new temperature and precipitation records being set, and it is not unrealistic that we could get up to 40 degrees in a couple of places in the summer of 2050,” says meteorologist Bente Wahl

Scientists believe that the heatwave is part of a pattern of increasing temperatures caused by climate change.

The increasingly warm weather does have the odd benefit for Norway, though.

Its farmers may experience a longer growing season – by as much as 3 months.

And more and more tourists are coming to the country with 2018 shaping up to be a record for the tourism industry for the fifth consecutive year.