Progress Report to NFR; 1
Reporting period (1.8.1999) 1.1.2000-31.8.2000.


Scientific report

1. Progress

The project is proceeding according to the Plan in the original proposal, except that the pollen stipendiat (Anne Bjune) is working 75% for four years from 1.4.2000 to 31.3.2004 instead of 100% for three years as in the original proposal.

The primary aims are to bring together eight specialists and their students working on environmental and climate reconstruction from five departments within the University of Bergen and to develop an integrated, multi-disciplinary, and coordinated palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic research project involving five doctoral students, three post-doctoral researchers, two external researchers, eight academic staff and their master students. The primary scientific aims are to exploit lake sedimentary archives and a range of methods and quantitative techniques in an attempt to reconstruct the natural variability in temperature, precipitation, wind, and atmospheric CO2 over the last 14000 years from a range of indirect "proxy" archives preserved in lake sediments (pollen, plant macrofossils, chironomids, mites, diatoms, sediment composition, magnetic properties, stable isotopes).

The major milestones are the (1) completion of sites selection, lake coring, and associated field work, (2) completion of all pollen, diatom, chironomid, plant macrofossil, and stable isotope analyses of cores from carefully selected sites, and (3) successful completion and defence of five Dr. Scient. degrees during the duration of the NORPEC project.

Overall the project is proceeding well, with a large amount of successful field work being done in 2000, many laboratory analyses are now underway, the NORPEC informal Lake Palaeoenvironmental Research Group has regular meetings and seminars, NORPEC is acting as an effective coordination for other researchers in Bergen working on related topics, NORPEC has developed strong and fruitful links with other national and international projects, and NORPEC researchers have published and lectured extensively in 2000.


2. Scientific results obtained


Besides the eight scientists (H.J.B. Birks, A. Nesje, S.O. Dahl, R. Løvlie, Aa. Paus, T. Solhøy, E. Willassen, M. Talbot), three post-doctoral researchers (H.H. Birks, S.M. Peglar, J. Larsen), and two NORPEC stipendiats (A.E. Bjune, J. Bakke), the NORPEC group also includes three other doctoral stipendiats and two master students. These are:

Cand. scient. Wenche Eide, VISTA-supported, Plant macrofossils, Botanical Institute.

Cand. scient. Gaute Velle, NFR-supported, Chironomid analyses, Zoological Museum (started 1.2.2000).

Cand. scient. Øyvind Lie, NFR (NORPAST)-supported, Quaternary geology, Geological Institute.

Cand. mag. Robert Johannessen, Mite analyses, Zoological Institute.

Cand. mag. Carina Mjelde Egeland, Mite analyses, Zoological Institute (starting 1 January 2001).

Two external researchers are also active in NORPEC:

Dr Vivienne J. Jones, Diatom analyses, University College London (20%).

Stephen J. Brooks, Chironomid analyses, Natural History Museum, London (20%).


Research Projects and Progress

At present within NORPEC four main research projects are underway.

1. Multi-proxy climate reconstructions of the late-glacial and early Holocene (8-14000 years ago). Coordinated by H.H. Birks and Aage Paus and involving S.M. Peglar, V.J. Jones, and S.J. Brooks.

An excellent site in southern Norway (Sumpamyra, Bjerkreim) was found and 11 cm diameter cores were obtained from the centre and the margins of the basin. These cores have been sampled at close intervals for pollen, diatoms, mites, chironomids, loss-on-ignition (LOI), plant macrofossils, and AMS 14C dating. The LOI analyses are completed and the diatom and chironomid analyses are currently in progress.

Two promising late-glacial sites in northern Norway near Hammerfest, Finnmark have been cored and the 11 cm diameter cores obtained in August 2000 are soon to be sampled for LOI, pollen, diatom, chironomid, plant macrofossil, mite, and AMS 14C analyses.

The results of the extensive multi-disciplinary study of the late-glacial and early Holocene sediments at Kråkenes that was funded, in part, by NFR grants to H.H. Birks have now been published as a special issue of Journal of Paleolimnology, with papers by several NORPEC members, including H.H. Birks, H.J.B. Birks, T. Solhøy, S.J. Brooks, V.J. Jones, and S.M. Peglar.

2. Holocene glacial and climate history of contrasting areas in Norway. Coordinated by A. Nesje and S.O. Dahl and involving J. Bakke, Ø. Lie, and R. Løvlie.

Much of the work in this project has been lake coring and field mapping in the oceanic Folgefonna peninsula (J. Bakke, S.O. Dahl), in the oceanic Lyngen Alps of northern Norway (J. Bakke, S.O. Dahl), and in the continental Dovre and Jotunheimen mountains (Ø. Lie, S.O. Dahl, A. Nesje).

Seven lakes have been cored in the Folgefonna area (Vetlavatnet, Øvre Furdalstjørn, Hegglandsdalen, Buervatn, Svartavatn, Fjellandsbøvatn, Svelgjavatn, Samlen) to provide a basis for reconstructing the deglaciation history of the area, for reconstructing the Holocene glacial history of the Folgefonna, and for reconstructing Holocene summer temperatures from biological archives (see Project 3). Geomorphological mapping has also been done in the area.

Four lakes have been cored in the Lyngen Alps (Barheivatnet, Aspvatnet, Elvejordsvatnet, Trollvatnet) to provide a basis for reconstructing the deglaciation history of the area, for reconstructing the Holocene glacial history of the Lyngen Alps, and for reconstructing Holocene summer temperatures from biological archives (see Project 3). Geomorphological mapping has also been done in the area.

Work in Dovre, Folldal, and Jotunheimen has involved coring several lakes (Reinstindvatnet, Skykkjedalsvatnet, Snøheim, Stormoen, Grimsmoen, Langtjørni, Sjodalen, Brurskardtjønn).

Analyses of these cores (LOI, magnetic properties, grain-size, AMS 14C dating) have begun.

3. Holocene climate history reconstructed from biological proxies. Coordinated by H.J.B. Birks and involving A. Bjune, S.M. Peglar, G. Velle, E. Willassen, J. Larsen, and W. Eide.

A multi-disciplinary study is underway at Råtåsjøen, a small lake at 1169 m elevation in eastern Dovre. This study currently involves pollen, diatom, plant macrofossil, chironomid, LOI, and AMS 14C analyses. The pollen and LOI stratigraphies suggest that major climatic changes have occurred at this site in the early and mid Holocene. Diatom, chironomid, and plant macrofossil analyses are underway. The diatom stratigraphy shows major changes in the diatom assemblages coinciding with the main changes in the LOI stratigraphy, suggesting a link between catchment processes and lake biota. A high-resolution core spanning the "Little Ice Age" to today has also been sampled.

Field work has been done in the Folgefonna and Finse/Hardangerjøkul areas to find suitable sites for similar multidisciplinary studies. These will be cored in fall 2000 or late winter 2001 (Vestre Øykjamyrtjønn, Trettetjønn). Analyses will also be made of cores from Brurskardtjønn, Jotunheimen.

Anne Bjune, Aage Paus, and Sylvia Peglar are performing pollen-analytical quality control studies to investigate the effects of different pollen analysts and different pollen preparation procedures on the resulting pollen counts.

Jorunn Larsen and Viv Jones (Project 1) are harmonising their diatom taxonomies by means of slide exchange and meetings. Steve Brooks (Project 1), Endre Willassen, and Gaute Velle are similarly involved in chironomid taxonomic harmonisation to ensure comparability of results.

4. Modern calibration data-sets. Coordinated by H.J.B. Birks and involving J. Larsen, S.J. Brooks, S.M. Peglar, V.J. Jones, and T. Solhøy.

Jorunn Larsen compiled into a singe data-file all the geographical, physical, climatic, chemical, and biological characteristics of the 188 lakes which have been sampled for surface-sediments in Norway in the last 5 years and which form the basis of the NORPEC climate transfer functions.

Jorunn Larsen, Viv Jones, and Gina Clarke (University College London) are working on the development of a diatom-lake ice-cover calibration set.

Steve Brooks and H.J.B. Birks have completed the development of a 159-lake chironomid-climate calibration data-set to reconstruct mean July air and lake-water temperatures from fossil chironomid assemblages.

Sylvia Peglar has completed pollen analyses of an additional 40 surface samples from southern Norway to improve the climatic coverage of the existing 191-lake pollen-climate calibration set.

Surface samples have also been collected for mite analyses from 45 sites.


Other stipendiat activities

Besides field work and laboratory analyses, the stipendiats within NORPEC have studied various courses as part of their doctoral programmes.

NORPEC now has a regular seminar series in which all the stipendiats play a major role.

Gaute Velle and Wenche Eide have given presentations at international and national meetings and have attended international courses and workshops. Jostein Bakke, Gaute Velle, and Wenche Eide have also contributed to popular scientific presentations involving television and newspapers.


3. Scientific and other publications by NORPEC scientists

2 Books
23 Papers in peer-reviewed literature and book chapters
2 Reports
19 Published abstracts
8 Popular science articles
5 TV/Radio presentations and newspaper articles
20 Papers presented at scientific meetings etc.


4. World wide web

World Wide Web

NORPEC is currently developing its own home page. It should be operational by the end of 2000.

Endre Willassen has opened a web page on subfossil chironomids in conjunction with K. Brodersen and O. Heiri (

Research collaboration

NORPEC has developed strong links with the NFR-supported NORPAST and RegClim projects and with the VISTA programme on Climate Archives. Several members of NORPEC are part of the recently founded Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen and of the EU Marie Curie Training Sites QPALEN and QPALCLIM. NORPEC is also linked to several EU projects including CHILL-10000 and EDDI and to the Nordic Ministers' POLARCLIM project.

There is close research collaboration with the following individuals

Professor R.W. Battarbee University College London
Gina Clarke University College London
Steinar Gulliksen Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Trondheim
Dr S. Juggins University of Newcastle
Dr Atte Korhola University of Helsinki
Dr Heikki Seppä University of Uppsala
Professor Roy Thompson University of Edinburgh

A doctoral student from the University of Bydgoszcz, Poland will work with Torstein Solhøy from April 12 2001 for 4 months as part of a NFR visiting scientist grant.