63 Degrees North

Science from Europe's outer edge

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  • 21. Seabed mining – savior or scourge?

    Norway's Mid-Arctic Ocean Ridge is alive with underwater volcanic activity – where big towers called black smokers spew mineral-laden boiling hot water into the ocean. The minerals precipitate out, and have accumulated over millions of years. At the same time, this extreme environment is home to lots of weird creatures mostly unknown to science. This week, a look at the pros and cons of Norway's decision to open an area the size of Italy to extract minerals. Today's guests are Mats Ingulstad, Egil Tjåland, Kurt Aasly and Torkild Bakken.Here are links to some of the articles and opinion pieces mentioned in the show:Norway needs to know much more before actually mining the deep sea Opinion piece written by Mats Ingulstad and his colleagues at Triple Deep, first published Dagens Næringsliv, a national newspaper.This link takes you to the 17 Jan. EU Parliament hearing on Norway's decision.Norway will be the first in the world to approve seabed mining. Is it a good idea? A piece from Norwegian SciTech News with a roundup of coverage on seabed mining.A report summary from Rystad Energy, commissioned in part by the Norwegian Forum for Marine Minerals, which estimates the economic potential of the seabed minerals in the area opened by the Norwegian government.The European Academies' Science Advisory Council report assessing future needs and environmental impacts of deep sea mining. This editorial from the academic journal Nature argues that Norway's decision undermines efforts to protect the ocean.The scientific article about new species discovered around Loki's Castle: Eilertsen, Mari Heggernes; Kongsrud, Jon Anders; Tandberg, Anne Helene S.; Alvestad, Tom; Budaeva, Nataliya; Martell, Luis. (2024) Diversity, habitat endemicity and trophic ecology of the fauna of Loki’s Castle vent field on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge.Here's a link to the press release from the University of Bergen on the discovery of Loki's Castle.Find the transcript here

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  • 20. Report from Dubai

    Our guest on today's show is Anders Hammer Strømman, one of the lead authors for the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on mitigation of climate change, released in April 2022. He was invited to Dubai to the COP 28 climate talks to talk to the shipping industry about how they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. He also shares his experience – not from the negotiating rooms – but from the perspective of a scientist seeing his work being taken up by policy makers.Here's a link to the IPCC report for which Anders was one of the lead authors: can read more about other NTNU researchers, including Helene Muri and Edgar Hertwich, who participated in the conference here:
  • 19. When trees talk

    In their careful records of climate change over the centuries — and millennia — trees offer a kind of crystal ball on the past. But they can also help researchers figure out everything from what happened in Norway during the Black Death to how Nazis hid an enormous battleship from the Allies during WWII to how much it rained in Norway during millennia past, when it was much warmer than today.Our guests on today's show are Helene Svarva and Claudia Hartl. You can see a transcript of the show here.Here's a selection of academic articles discussed in today's show:Ljungqvist, Fredrik Charpentier; Seim, Andrea; Tegel, Willy; Krusic, Paul J.; Baittinger, Claudia; Belingard, Christelle. (2022) Regional Patterns of Late Medieval and Early Modern European Building Activity Revealed by Felling Dates. Frontiers in Ecology and EvolutionThun, Terje; Svarva, Helene Løvstrand. (2018) Tree-ring growth shows that the significant population decline in Norway began before the Black Death. DendrochronologiaSvarva, Helene Løvstrand; Thun, Terje; Kirchhefer, Andreas; Nesje, Atle. (2018) Little Ice Age summer temperatures in Western Norway from a 700-year tree-ring chronology. The HoloceneThun, Terje. (2009) Norwegian dendrochronology; almost a victim of the Black Death. AmS-Varia
  • 18. 1100 Norwegian teachers fought Hitler — and won

    When Hitler's troops stormed into Norway on April 9, 1940, Germany's goal was to secure the country’s 1200 km long coastline so iron ore from Swedish mines could continue to flow to the northern Norwegian port of Narvik — and eventually to the German war machine. But that wasn't all that Hitler and his followers hoped for, as Norwegian teachers would come to learn.Vidkun Quisling, a Nazi collaborator who nominally headed the Norwegian government during the occupation, wanted Norway to embrace Nazi ideology. He decided the best way to do this was through teachers and schoolchildren. In February 1942, he ordered all teachers to join a new union that would require them to introduce Nazi doctrine to their students. Students were also ordered to join the Norwegian equivalent of the Hitler Youth.But the teachers refused.They organized using tactics right out of a spy movie to resist — scribbling messages in invisible ink, meeting secretly in basements and train stations, and printing newsletters to coordinate efforts across the country. For their efforts, 1100 were arrested — and subjected to months of starvation, torture and hard labour.This week, the story of what happened when the teachers defied Hitler — and won!My guests on today's show are Martin Øystese and Unni Eikeseth.Learn more about the teachers' battle:The Teacher's Protest tells the full story of the teachers' resistance, in a 2020 video by Jon Seal and available for rental from Vimeo."Tyranny could not quell them," by Gene Sharp, a 24-page booklet published in 1958 by the International Pacifist Weekly that describes the teachers' rebellion, and how the tactics they used could help other groups that are interested in non-violent resistance.Lærarkrigen mot Quisling, the Norwegian three-part podcast about the teacher's rebellion (in Norwegian)Ø. Hetland, N. Karcher & K. B. Simonsen (2021) Navigating troubled waters: collaboration and resistance in state institutions in Nazi-occupied Norway, Scandinavian Journal of History, 46:1, 84-104, DOI: 10.1080/03468755.2020.1846075Norwegian Teachers Stand Firm (1942) 32-page booklet published by the Royal Norwegian Government Press Representatives, Washington, DC.
  • 17. Tea bags on the tundra

    Up on the Arctic tundra, a young man in chest waders is wandering around a peat bod, burying tea bags — Lipton tea bags, green tea and rooibos, to be exact. This week, I head to Iskoras mountain, a low peak in far northern Norway, outside of the town of Karasjok to find out what burying tea bags in the tundra — and doing sophisticated measurements in a peat bog —can tell us about the future of permafrost and its effects on the climate.This week's guests are Hanna Lee, Anja Greschkowiak, Lisa van Solt and Daniel Angulo Serrano.Here are some videos that explain the research and show the field site in more detail:A brief description of the project, by Inge Althuizen artistic video about the project fieldwork by Sasha Azanova. can read more about the research in this episode here:Jiao, Yi; Davie-Martin, Cleo L.; Kramshøj, Magnus; Christiansen, Casper Tai; Lee, Hanna; Althuizen, Inge. (2023) Volatile organic compound release across a permafrost-affected peatland. GeodermaLee, H., Christiansen, C., Althuizen, I., Michelsen, A., Dörsch, P., Westermann, S., and Risk, D.: Long lasting greenhouse gas emissions beyond abrupt permafrost thaw event in permafrost peatlands, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4211,, 2022.Rixen, Christian; Høye, Toke Thomas; Macek, Petr; Aerts, Rien; Alatalo, Juha M.; Andeson, Jill T.. (2022) Winters are changing: snow effects on Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems. Arctic ScienceCai, Lei; Lee, Hanna; Aas, Kjetil Schanke; Westermann, Sebastian. (2020) Projecting circum-Arctic excess-ground-ice melt with a sub-grid representation in the Community Land Model. The Cryosphere
  • 16. When the doctor is out

    Sierra Leone used to be the most dangerous place in the world to give birth. Without enough doctors to do C-sections, women and babies were dying. But what if you didn't need a doctor?This week, the story of two determined surgeons and a no-so radical idea that is saving lives in Sierra Leone — one emergency operation at a time.You can read more about the non-profit organization the doctors created to fund their training programme at Our guests on today's show are Håkon Bolkan, Alex van Duinen and Emmanuel Tommy. Here are some of the academic articles discussed in the show:Bolkan, Håkon Angell; Schreeb, Johan; Samai, Mohamed; Bash-Taqi, Donald Alpha; Kamara, T. B.; Salvesen, Øyvind. (2015) Met and unmet need for surgery in Sierra Leone: a comprehensive retrospective countrywide survey from all healthcare facilities performing surgery in 2012. SurgeryBrolin, Kim; van Duinen, Aalke Johan; Nordenstedt, Helena; Hoijer, J; Molnes, Ragnhild; Frøseth, Torunn Wigum. (2016) The Impact of the West Africa Ebola Outbreak on Obstetric Health Care in Sierra Leone. PLOS ONEBolkan, Håkon Angell; van Duinen, Aalke Johan; Waalewijn, Bart; Elhassein, Mohamed; Kamara, T. B.; Deen, G F. (2017) Safety, productivity and predicted contribution of a surgical task-sharing programme in Sierra Leone. British Journal of SurgeryTreacy, Laura; Bolkan, Håkon Angell; Sagbakken, Mette. (2018) Distance, accessibility and costs. Decision-making During Childbirth in Rural Sierra Leone: a Qualitative Study. PLOS ONEDrevin, Gustaf; Alvesson, Helle Mölsted; van Duinen, Aalke Johan; Bolkan, Håkon Angell; Koroma, Alimamy philip; von Schreeb, Johan. (2019) ”For this one, let me take the risk”: why surgical staff continued to perform caesarean sections during the 2014–2016 Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. BMJ Global Healthvan Duinen, Aalke Johan; Kamara, Michael M.; Hagander, Lars; Ashley, Thomas; Koroma, Alimamy Philip; Leather, Andy J.M.. (2019) Caesarean section performed by medical doctors and associate clinicians in Sierra Leone. British Journal of Surgeryvan Duinen, Aalke Johan; Westendorp, Josien; Kamara, Michael M; Forna, Fatu; Hagander, Lars; Rijken, Marcus J.. (2020) Perinatal outcomes of cesarean deliveries in Sierra Leone: A prospective multicenter observational study. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics
  • 15. Listening to Leviathans: Sounds from the deep

    Norwegian technology, courtesy of the 19th-century whaler Svend Foyn, played a critical role in establishing the modern era of industrial whaling.By the time the 1960s rolled around, most large whale populations hovered on the brink of extinction. Now, Norwegian researchers are testing new technologies so they can track and study these marine giants — and help protect them. This week, tapping into fibre-optic cables to eavesdrop on whales in a way that's never been done before— and how deploying a comprehensive library of whale dialects can help prevent ship-whale collisions in busy California shipping ports. This week's guests are Jennifer Bailey, a professor at NTNU's Department of Sociology and Political Science; Martin Landrø, a professor at NTNU's Department of Electronic Systems; Léa Bouffaut, a postdoc at the Cornell University K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics; and Ana Širović, an associate professor at NTNU's Department of Biology. Ana's work with whale dialects and ship strikes is part of the Whale Safe Project.You can read more about the fibre-optic research in these articles from Norwegian SciTech News:Tracking whales as they cruise the ArcticEavesdropping on the Earth itselfEavesdropping on whales in the High ArcticHere are some of the academic articles related to the research discussed in the episode.Landrø, M., Bouffaut, L., Kriesell, H.J. et al. Sensing whales, storms, ships and earthquakes using an Arctic fibre optic cable. Sci Rep 12, 19226 (2022).éa Bouffaut, Kittinat Taweesintananon, Hannah Kriesell, Robin A Rørstadbotnen, John R Potter, Martin Landrø, Ståle E Johansen, Jan K Brenne, Aksel Haukanes, Olaf Schjelderup and Frode Storvik. Eavesdropping at the speed of light: distributed acoustic sensing of baleen whales in the Arctic. Frontiers in Marine Science. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.901348Rørstadbotnen RA, Eidsvik J, Bouffaut L, Landrø M, Potter J, Taweesintananon K, Johansen S, Storevik F, Jacobsen J, Schjelderup O, Wienecke S, Johansen TA, Ruud BO, Wuestefeld A and Oye V (2023) Simultaneous tracking of multiple whales using two fiber-optic cables in the Arctic. Front. Mar. Sci. 10:1130898. DOI=10.3389/fmars.2023.1130898