Norwegian Ice Tunnels Address Climate and Mythology

At the heart of the Juvflye plateau in Norway, icy tunnels are carved in the Juvfonne snowdrift. The tunnels attract tourists, who are there to learn about climate change, Norse mythology, history and nature as part of the Mimisbrunnr Climate Park.

The park was named after the well of knowledge in Norse Mythology. According to the myth, Odin, father of all gods, gave up an eye so he could drink from the well, which was guarded by Mimir, the wise giant.

Melting glaciers in the mountains of Oppland County, where the park is situated, revealed more than 700 ancient artifacts. Under the snow and ice, researchers found a leather shoe, a knitted tunic and hunting tools from the Bronze Age. As visitors make their way through 60 metres of icy tunnels in the park, they discover this history, which spans deep into 6000 year old ice.

Visitors walk through tunnels designed by artist Peter Istad and encounter a number of artifacts preserved in ice blocks. The tunnel remains at -2.5 degrees Celsius year-round. Most of the artifacts, however, are kept in a museum 30 minutes away.

“The speed of the ice melting is formidable and alarming, but the number of new archaeological objects give a unique possibility for improving the knowledge and for interpreting the story about the early inhabitants and users of these mountain areas,” Norwegian researchers wrote in a recent paper analysing the significance of the park and its potential for raising awareness about climate issues.

The project was developed by the National Mountain Institution, private tourist companies, research institutions and public authorities to enhance climate research, but also engage the public in climate consciousness. In the park, visitors are also invited to enjoy an outdoor opera and stunning views at 1900 metres above sea level.

Though the park can accommodate 20,000 people, it only received 3,400 visitors in 2014. Most of its funding comes from the public and private sectors and the park itself has yet to achieve commercial success. Still, the park presents opportunities for cross-platform collaboration, Norwegian researchers said.

“An important outcome is the fruitful exchange of experiences, between public and private partners, tourism and science interests, amateurs and professionals, and between local, regional and national actors,” the authors wrote. “The network has shown to be quite dynamic.”

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Roundup: Climate Park, Microbes and Variability

Park in Norway Aims  to Raise Climate Awareness

“Increased ice melting revealed in 2006–2007 many reminiscences of ancient human activity around ice patches near Mt Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest mountain peak. The public limited company ‘Klimapark 2469 AS’ was established to develop a heritage interpretation product and to study climate change. A 60-metre long ice tunnel is excavated in the ice patch Juvfonna, where guided walks and a display presenting climate change, archeology, Norse mythology, and glaciology are offered. […] An important outcome is the fruitful exchange of experiences, between public and private partners, tourism and science interests, amateurs and professionals, and between local, regional and national actors.”

Read more about the park here.

Microbial Life Thrives in Glacier Foreland Soil

“To reveal temporal variability of archaeal and bacterial abundance, community structure, as well as microbial biomass and activity, soils of different ages (young, intermediate, mature) were sampled along a glacier foreland in the Austrian Central Alps, at the beginning (summer) and at the end (autumn) of the plant growing season. […] Our results indicate that temporal variations of microbial activities, biomass, and abundance in alpine glacier foreland soils distinctly increased along with the age of the soils and highlight the importance of sampling date for ecological studies.”

A sterile swab is being used to sample sediment melting out from a glacier in Iceland. Photo courtesy of David Elliot/Flickr.
A sterile swab is being used to sample sediment melting out from a glacier in Iceland. Photo courtesy of David Elliot/Flickr.

Read the full study here.

Sediments in Lake Reveals Clues About Glacier Variability

“The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Holocene proxy time-series are increasingly used to put this amplified response in perspective by understanding Arctic climate processes beyond the instrumental period. However, available datasets are scarce, unevenly distributed and often of coarse resolution. Glaciers are sensitive recorders of climate shifts and variations in rock-flour production transfer this signal to the lacustrine sediment archives of downstream lakes. Here, we present the first full Holocene record of continuous glacier variability on Svalbard from glacier-fed Lake Hajeren. This reconstruction is based on an undisturbed lake sediment core that covers the entire Holocene and resolves variability on centennial scales owing to 26 dating points.”

Ny Ålesund, Svalbard,  courtesy of James Stringer/Flickr
Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, courtesy of James Stringer/Flickr

Take a look at the study here.

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