Norway should limit Arctic soot to slow warming

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway should limit soot from emerging Arctic industries such as oil or shipping that risk accelerating a thaw of ice around the North Pole caused by global warming, a report said on Tuesday.

The study also said climate change, likely to be felt strongly in the Arctic, would shift Norway’s fish stocks, forests and reindeer pastures northwards and even bring a need to re-design hydropower dams to cope with more rain.

“The Norwegian Arctic is becoming warmer and wetter, with big local variations,” the 71-page report led by the Norwegian Polar Institute said of an area from the tip of the European mainland to islands 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole.

Black soot can blanket ice and snow with a dark layer that absorbs more of the sun’s energy, speeding a thaw of ice. The Arctic is already warming fast since dark water or ground soaks up more heat than reflective ice.

The study is the first national follow-up after an overview for all eight countries with Arctic territory in 2004 warned that warming could hit livelihoods of indigenous peoples and push creatures such as polar bears toward extinction.

Most of the warming in the Arctic so far was caused by emissions from distant power plants, factories and cars. But Tuesday’s report said Norway could act to curb future Arctic pollution that could otherwise add to a changing climate.

“It is important to limit and regulate emissions from shipping, the petroleum business or other industries that emit soot directly in the Arctic,” the report said.

“There is commercial technology available that can considerably reduce emissions of soot for most sources,” it said. Tougher limits on soot could push up prices for new industries.


Norway is the world’s number five oil exporter and is considering opening new northern areas to exploration amid calls for caution after BP’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Arctic Ocean could be a short-cut between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

“Climate change in the Norwegian Arctic has major consequences for both nature and people,” Environment Minister Erik Solheim said. Many impacts would be damaging, such as more acidic oceans or more pollution and damaging ultra-violet rays.

In the most extreme example in the report, one spot east of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard was projected to become 8 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) warmer this century.

The study said that Norway, which produces almost all of its electricity from hydropower, would have to plan for more robust dams and other equipment in a wetter climate.

It said a changing climate would affect creatures from lemmings to reindeer and allowing new creatures and vegetation to move north. And forests were growing more -- helping absorb industrial greenhouse gases.

For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on:

Editing by Reed Stevenson