Stein Tori Pedersen He couldn’t believe his eyes when one Sunday in September he was hunting reindeer about a half-hour boat ride from Longyearbyen on Svalbard.
He was lost in his own thoughts when he almost stepped on what is described as a landmark find in the Norwegian archipelago far in the Arctic: ripe red currants.
Dogwood plants have been well documented on Svalbard since the early 1900s. However, there is no evidence that the berries will ripen in an arctic climate – although there are some rumors that hawthorn has been discovered in the archipelago.
For dogwood to mature, temperatures above 10 degrees and little rain are required. Therefore, this year’s summer, which was dry and warmer than usual on Svalbard, is thought to have created good conditions for the berries.
“I think the deer crown is a direct result of the unusually hot summer this year,” says Pedersen.
Record hot July
Svalbard is one of the places in the world where global warming is progressing the fastest, and July was the warmest month on record so far in the archipelago. For the first time, the average temperature at a measuring station for this month exceeded 10 degrees, which is considered the maximum for the polar climate.
“I’ve never seen a map of elk antlers in Svalbard, so the ripe berries are very exciting,” says plant researcher Verve Ravolainen from the Norwegian Polar Institute.
In the past 50 years, the average temperature on Svalbard has risen by 3-5 degrees. That’s a lot for a place where cold and ice were the foundation of ecosystems. Warming is particularly rapid in winters, which are becoming shorter, milder and wetter.
Global warming in the Arctic is about four times faster than in the rest of the world. It runs faster around Svalbard – especially in winter.
Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, about halfway between Norway and the North Pole. It is said that there are more polar bears than people here.
About 2,400 people live in Longyearbyen on the main island of Spitsbergen.
According to the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, the archipelago belongs to Norway. However, other countries that signed the agreement have access to the islands and can do business there. Norwegian legislation applies and administration is subject to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice.
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