Effects of climate change
NIVA has extensive knowledge about ways that climate change can impact the aquatic environment. This information is essential to society's implementation of relevant responses and adaptations.
NIVA activities include:
- evaluating the consequences of climate change and recommending responses
- monitoring changes in aquatic environments resulting from climate variations
- performing large-scale experiments in ecosystems to acquire knowledge about the climate effect of increased CO2 concentrations, rising temperatures, changes in precipitation levels and extreme weather events
- simulating future climate effects with the help of models
- developing new technology for monitoring the consequences of increased CO2 in the oceans
Cooperation in climate research
A number of environmental organisations cooperate in the research programme Klimaeffekter fra fjell til fjord (Climate effects from mountains to fjords). The project was initiated by NIVA and lasts until 2015.
Long-term data series reveal changes
Long-term data series are required to document the effects of climate change on the physical, chemical and biological conditions in water. NIVA has registered clear signs of climate changes such as increased temperatures in the Oslo Fjord and in Lake Mjøsa, increasing humus content in many Norwegian drinking water sources and the increased leaching of heavy metals to watercourses.
NIVA leads a number of nationwide monitoring programmes on contract from the Norwegian Environment Agency.
NIVA also performs research on understanding the effects of the acidification of coastal waters and oceans.
Modern monitoring technology provides a better basis for data
NIVA uses both manual monitoring methods and various forms of monitoring technology, such as:
- continual monitoring and transmission of real time data from sensors at permanent stations
- monitoring and transmission of real time environmental data from commercial ferries and cargo ships (ships of opportunity) sailing along regular routes (Ferrybox)
- automatic samplers that document temporary episodes of poor water quality
- passive samplers (providing data about low concentrations of environmental toxins and longer-term variations)
- satellite data
These methods enable us, for instance, to provide early warnings to fish farms about toxic algae blooms or control acidified rivers.
Models - an important tool
We use a variety of mathematical models to predict how climate changes can impact the environmental quality of larger systems, for instance watercourses or fjords. These models simulate in a comprised and simplified manner how ecosystems function. They can be run 50-100 years into the future driven by scenarios for future climate change.
Models are now used actively by NIVA within a range of disciplines such as hydrology, hydrophysics, water chemistry, water biology and population dynamics, and these comprise an important basis for response plans and public regulation plans for marine waters and freshwater.
Large scale climate research experiments
NIVA pioneered the use of large-scale experiments as tools in climate effect research. The CLIMEX Project (1994-2000) was unique when a 1000 m² headwater catchment at Risdalsheia near Grimstad was covered by a transparent roof and walls.
More recently we have carried out many experiments involving the manipulation of thermal regimes in lakes and manipulation of soil temperature, soil humidity and snow-cover in small catchments. We have also studied the effects of climate change on seaweed and kelp as well as marine bottom organisms.
NIVA's research station at Solbergstrand in the Oslo Fjord is being expanded to enable researchers to perform experiments on the climate effects of marine ecosystems.
Carbon capture and storage
Since 1998 NIVA has carried out large-scale experiments to study the effects of increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. From 2005 we have studied the environmental effects of capture and storage of CO2 in geological structures. We have developed advanced equipment that can be lowered to the seabed to study the effects of CO2 and methane on benthic organisms living above or in soft-bottomed seabeds.
NIVA leads the administration of CO2GeoNet (The European Network of Excellence on the Geological Storage of CO2).
Kai Sørensen, research manager, Marine Biogeochemistry and Oceanography
Øyvind Kaste, research manager, Catchment Processes
Anders Gjørwad Hagen, research manager, Research Infrastructure
Mats Walday, research manager, Marine Biology
Nikolai Friberg, research director
NIVA's research on carbon capture and storage is implemented through a number of EU projects and large national initiatives, for instance the Centre for Environment-Friendly Energy Research, FME-SUCCESS, REFRESH and MARS.