Bergen Summer Research School
Course description 2016

Climate change and water

Climate change and the hydrological cycle. Observed and future changes in global and regional precipitation patterns, and likely effects on water resources in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Kid at water tap

Main content

Course description

The aim of the course is to give an overview of the present and future state of the Earth’s water cycle, the foundation for all life on land. Global warming is changing the distribution and intensity of precipitation. Regions that are dry today are generally becoming drier and wet areas wetter, with an increased risk for extreme precipitation, flooding and landslides in most regions.

The projected changes in climate and weather may influence water availability, food production and energy production.

In addition to the global perspective, we will have three focus regions: Europe, Africa and the Himalayas and South Asian monsoon region. Regional topics discussed will include the monsoon, the drying of the Mediterranean region, shifting rainfall conditions in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and changes in water resources from glaciers in the Himalayas.

The course has a physical science basis (meteorology and hydrology), but lines will be drawn to water resources and food production, to natural hazards related to extreme precipitation and to the use of water in energy production. We welcome students of climatology as well as of water resources and water-related risks.

The course will consist of lectures, and students will engage through discussions, group work and various other activities.

Course leaders

Tore Furevik and Ellen Viste
Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research


Jürgen Bader
Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

Scott Bremer
Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, UiB

Teferi Demissie
Uni Climate and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Tore Furevik
Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Miriam Jackson
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate

Ina T. Kindem
The Norwegian energy company BKK

Stefan Sobolowski
Uni Climate and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Asgeir Sorteberg
Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Mathew Reeve
Uni Climate and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Ellen Viste
Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Lecture topics

General overview of climate change
- Introduction to the course: An overview of climate change and the course topics (Tore Furevik and Ellen Viste)

- Observed and future changes in global patterns of precipitation and evaporation (Ellen Viste)

Climate change and water resources
- Consequences of changing water availability on food and health (Tore Furevik / Bernt Lindtjørn). This topic will be taught partly together with the course on Climate and global health.  

- The future of hydropower (Ina T. Kindem)

Climate change and water-related, natural hazards
Extreme precipitation events, flooding and avalanches/rockslides (Asgeir Sorteberg)

Regional issues
- Monsoons and shifting precipitation in West Africa / the Sahel (Jürgen Bader)

- Precipitation and droughts in East Africa / the Horn of Africa (Teferi Demissie)

- The effect of climate change on glaciers and water in the Himalayas (Miriam Jackson)

- Climate change and water in Bangladesh (Mathew Reeve and Scott Bremer)

- Climate change and water in Europe (Stefan Sobolowski)


Reading list


IPCC, 2014: Summary for policy makers of Climate Change 2014: the Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland

Kaser, G., M. Großhauser, and B. Marzeion, (2010): Contribution potential of glaciers to water availability in different climate regimes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 20223 - 20227, doi:10.1073/pnas.1008162107.

Kääb et al. (2012): Contrasting patters of early twenty-first-century glacier mass change in the Himalayas. Nature. 23 August 2012. Vol 488, issue 7412, pages 495-498, doi:10.1038/nature11324.

Bolch, T., Kulkarni, A., Kääb, A., Huggel, C., Paul, F., Cogley, J. G., Frey, H., Kargel, J. S., Fujita, K., Scheel, M., Bajracharya, S., and Stoffel, M. (2012): The State and Fate of Himalayan Glaciers, Science, 336, 310–314, doi:10.1126/science.1215828, 2012.

Adger, W.N, Jon Barnett, Katrina Brown, Nadine Marshall & Karen O'Brien (2012): Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nature Climate Change 3, 112–117 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1666

Ravetz, J. (2004): The post-normal science of precaution. Futures, Volume 36, Issue 3, April 2004, Pages 347–357

Garcia-Ruiz, J.M., López-Moreno, J.I., Vicente-Serrano, S.M., Lasanta-Martínez, T. and S. Beguería (2011): Mediterranean water resources in a global change scenario. Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 105, Issues 3–4, April 2011, Pages 121–139

Vliet, Michelle T. H. van, John R. Yearsley, Fulco Ludwig, Stefan Vögele, Dennis P. Lettenmaier & Pavel Kabat: Vulnerability of US and European electricity supply to climate change. Nature Climate Change2, 676–681 (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1546

Chadwick, R., Good, P., Martin, G., and D.P. Rowell (2016): Large rainfall changes consistently projected over substantial areas of tropical land. Nature Climate Change 6, 177–181 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2805

Dai, A. (2012): Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models. Nature Climate Change 3, 52–58 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1633ced Review

Donat, Markus G; Andrew L. Lowry, Lisa V. Alexander, Paul A. O’Gorman and Nicola Maher (2016): More extreme precipitation in the world’s dry and wet regions, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2941.

Ingram, W. (2016): Increases all round. News & Views, Nature Climate Change.
Comment on Donat et al., 2016.

Westra, S., H. J. Fowler, J. P. Evans, L. V. Alexander, P. Berg, F. Johnson, E. J. Kendon, G. Lenderink, and N. M. Roberts (2014): Future changes to the intensity and frequency of shortduration extreme rainfall, Rev. Geophys., 52, 522–555, doi:10.1002/2014RG000464.