Climate change forces adjustments on Norway's Arctic Svalbard

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-18 03:49:36|Editor: Mu Xuequan
Video PlayerClose

OSLO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of apartments in the Arctic town of Longyearbyen will have to be taken down and cottages moved due to climate change on Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday.

There is more danger of avalanches, landslides and erosion due to mild and unstable winters, and increased thawing of permafrost has a big impact on building technics, the report said.

"Due to climate change and on advice of experts, we have had to find new ways of house-building," said Hege Njaa Aschim, communications director of the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property (Statsbygg).

"Therefore, we are now building with a 60-year perspective, while the foundation made of steel is fastened in mountains, not in the permafrost. This makes the project a different kind of construction project," she said.

According to experts from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), several hundreds of homes will have to be demolished and new safe areas developed.

"In total, we are talking about 250 homes, including 100 student homes, which are likely to be moved and possibly torn down because they are in the risk zone. The final number will be determined based on the scope of the security measures," said Annlaug Kjelstad from the Longyearbyen's Local Board.

In the long term, short winters may affect the local airport, which is close to the sea.

"If the sea level continues to rise, it could also threaten our drinking water source," Kjelstad said.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008 and is the largest collection of agricultural biodiversity in the world, will have to have a new waterproof concrete structure built into the vault, since large amounts of water started entering into the tunnel opened in 2016, Aftenposten wrote.

According to Kim Holmen, climate researcher and International Director at the Norwegian Polar Institute, climate change can make Svalbard a kind of test laboratory for, among other things, testing of various solutions for solar cells and storage of energy during the winter months.