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Bergen - city in Norway

Bergen city
Photo:
Anne Bremer

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Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with about 280 000 inhabitants, and is located on the west coast; centred on ‘the city fjord’ and surrounded by seven mountains, with many suburbs on surrounding islands. Bergen’s port is the busiest in Norway in freight and passengers, making it also a centre for aquaculture, fishing, shipping, off-shore petroleum and seep-sea technology. Bergen also hosts several educational institutions, with a strong legacy in meteorology and climate research embodied in the world-recognised Bjerknes centre. The city has a mild climate and is the rainiest city in Europe, meaning it has a long tradition in surface water management. But Bergen’s water systems are at full capacity so it is vulnerable to flooding and related discharges of sewage into the fjord, especially with sea-level rise. 

The rainy climate around Bergen has given rise to diverse seasonal representations, from traditional knowledge like ‘primstavs’, from local knowledge in groups like ‘Friends of the Nesttun Water Course’, and from the scientists of the city’s various research institutions. Across these groups we see recognition of changing seasons. The Norwegian Climate Service Centre (link in Norwegian)  asserts that autumn and winter will likely see increased rainfall, and summer increased high intensity rainfall events, with these trends reflected in media debates too. The Norwegian Citizen Panel found individuals also voiced season change; “Just look at this winter 2013/2014; how mild, stormy and little snow we have seen in the West and North”. The changing timing and conditions of the seasons is affecting the decisions made in institutions. For example, early autumn rains mean nearby farmers cannot move heavy machinery onto waterlogged land to harvest their summer crop, and are forced to watch it rot. This may mean the timing and organisation of farming practices, and the machinery used for harvesting, need to be reconsidered.