Many tourists are worried about the future for Norway’s majestic glaciers. Some fear they may be in a hurry if they’re going to be able to marvel at the massive power of the ice.
In Norway, as in the rest of the world, temperatures are rising. Records are broken every month, and 2016 will almost certainly surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record.
Unfortunately, this is bad news for Norway’s glaciers. The total area covered by glaciers has decreased by 11 per cent the last 30 years, according to CICERO, Center for Climate Research (article only in Norwegian). 326 square kilometres have dissapeared since the mid-80s. The ice is receding most rapidly in the northern parts of the country.
However, the fact that the glaciers are under pressure have led to a significant increase in tourism, according to NRK (article only in Norwegian). Nigardsbreen in Luster is having its best year ever when it comes to tourism. The popular Folgefonna in Hordaland county and Svartisen in Nordland county are also reporting an increase this summer.
“People want to stay active during their holidays, and the glaciers appeal to tourists. Not least because of people’s interest in climate change, and the way that this is dominating the agenda”, says Steinar Bruheim, CEO for the mountaineering company Jostedalen Breførerlag.
Eco-conscius travellers know that Norway’s beautiful glaciers can’t be taken for granted. If the most pessimistic analyses are correct, several of the country’s more than 2500 glaciers will dissapear in the next 100 years.
Two factors are important when it comes to the receding glaciers: Higher temperatures and less snow.
“The glaciers are retreating more now than they have for a very long time. They are affected by the climate, and the global population will decide what’s happening next. If we continue like we do, the glaciers will keep melting”, says Hallgeir Elvehøy, senior engineer for The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).
Despite the gloomy prospects: Walking a Norwegian glacier is still an unforgettable experience.
Due to deep crevasses, avalanches and the constant, unpredictable movement of the ice blocks, you should never go on your own, though. Guided tours are available, and on some glaciers, like Tystigbreen and Folgefonna, there are even summer ski resorts, with prepared slopes where you can ski and snowboard while tanning in a t-shirt. The meltwater produces lush valleys below, with rivers and fjords coloured by a distinct, greenish glow.
You may climb them, marvel at them – even ski on them in the middle of summer. But you will not fail to feel the massive, untameable power inherent in the glaciers.
Jeff from England fell in love with Northern Norway. After seeing this video, it’s quite easy to understand why.