63 Degrees North


Wax, wood and CO2

Season 2, Ep. 13
Three tons of wax. A 4-story office building made almost entirely of wood. And putting CO2 to work instead of letting it heat up the planet: Scientists and engineers across the globe are harnessing unlikely materials to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Today's show looks at how a zero-emissions office building combines integrated solar panels, heat pumps and a huge vat of wax to heat and power the structure, with enough left over to sell. We'll also look at highly efficient heat pumps using CO2 as the stuff inside that makes it work. They're spreading worldwide, and can be found everywhere from inside your Volkswagen ID electric car to the Large Hadron Collider. And also — at a hotel in Hell, Norway, where electricity use was cut by 70 per cent — without making a pact with the devil!Our guests on today's show are Tore Kvande and Armin Hafner.There's a video on Professor Hafner's work at CERN here, and more about CoolCERN, here.Find a related podcast episode here.Read more:Nocente, A, Time, B, Mathisen, H.M, Kvande, T & Gustavsen, A: The ZEB Laboratory: the development of a research tool for future climate adapted zero emission buildings. 8th International Building Physics Conference. J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 2021, Vol 2069, Article no. 012109Sevault A., Næss E., Active latent heat storage using biowax in a central heating system of a ZEB living lab; Proc. of the 14th IIR-Gustav Lorentzen Conf. on Natural Refrigerants - GL2020. Internat. Inst. of Refrig. 2020 ISBN 978-2-36215-040-1. s.493-498, doi.org/10.18462/iir.gl.2020.1146 (Published online 7 December 2020)Pardiñas, Ángel Á.; Jokiel, Michael; Schlemminger, Christian; Selvnes, Håkon; Hafner, Armin. (2021) Modeling of a CO2‐based integrated refrigeration system for supermarkets. Energies. vol. 14:6926 (21).Barroca, Pierre, Armin Hafner, Bart Verlaat, Paolo Petagna, Wojciech Hulek, Lukasz Zwalinski, Pierre Hanf, Michele Battistin, Loic Davoine, and Daniella Teixeira. 2021. "An Ultra-Low Temperature Transcritical R744 Refrigeration System for Future Detectors at CERN LHC" Applied Sciences 11, no. 16: 7399. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167399

The EU has the strongest climate law in the world. But it's not enough.

Season 2, Ep. 12
Earlier this year, tremendous floods in Pakistan forced 600,000 pregnant women to leave their homes for safer ground. It was among the latest in a series of nearly unthinkable happenings caused by climate change."Can you imagine if you are about to give birth to a child, and you have to leave your home and flee? These are very traumatic experiences that people have now in all continents, and increasing frequency," says NNTU Professor Edgar Hertwich. He says we all know now that climate change is no longer an abstraction — it's here, and humankind has to act.Hertwich — one of the top 100 climate researchers on the planet — is in a unique position to push the international agenda: he's one of just 15 members on the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, which is advising the EU on implementing its new climate law. That matters because the EU is the largest political entity in the world to commit to such ambitious goals.The 27 nations in the EU have committed to cutting their carbon emissions by at least 55% in just 8 years — by 2030. By 2050, the EU law commits its member nations to a net-zero emissions balance — meaning that they will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as much as they can and find ways of compensating for the remaining and unavoidable emissions so that the net emissions are zero.This is an aggressive plan, Hertwich says, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. And he's been vocal in telling EU leaders just that. Listen to what he had to say to a recent EU Strategy Summit on Climate in Brussels, hosted by NTNU and SINTEF, Scandinavia's largest independent research institution.You can read a collection of popular science articles about Professor Hertwich's research here.Here's a selection of his recent academic publications:Berrill, Peter; Wilson, Eric J.H.; Janet L., Reyna; Antyony D., Fontanini; Hertwich, Edgar G.. (2022) Decarbonization pathways for the residential sector in the United States. Nature Climate Change. vol. 12.Carattini, Stefano; Hertwich, Edgar G.; Melkadze, Givi; Shrader, Jeffrey G.. (2022) Mandatory disclosure is key to address climate risks. Science. vol. 378 (6618)Huang, Yuqiao; Wolfram, Paul; Miller, Reed; Azarijafari, Hessam; Guo, Fengdi; An, Kangxin; Li, Jin; Hertwich, Edgar G.; Gregory, Jeremy; Wang, Can. (2022) Mitigating life cycle GHG emissions of roads to be built through 2030: Case study of a Chinese province. Journal of Environmental Management. vol. 319.

Getting to Net Zero

Season 2, Ep. 11
We all know that climate change is real and that we have to do something about it. In today's podcast extra episode, we go behind the scenes at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and talk to Anders Hammer Strømman, who was one of the lead authors for their latest report, released in April this year. Anders is a professor at NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme where he has specialized in Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental input-output analysis, which are tools that enable us to understand the real environmental costs of the goods and materials we use in everyday life.We talk about why cutting carbon emissions quickly is a little like skiing up a big mountain, how battery companies need to come clean when it comes to how they make their products, why some version of a home office could be good for the planet, and why your individual choices can actually make a difference.  And we talk about why Anders is optimistic and thinks we can make this shift — even though the governments of the world have been slow to act. Anders encouraged me (and by extension, you, my listeners) to look at the entire report (nearly 3000 pages — not 3675 as I say in the podcast!) but that's probably more than most of us have time for. You can look at the chapter that Anders was lead author on, on Transport, here (the link will start a pdf download). You can read an even more condensed version of the WG III report and its major findings here. The bottom line is that we CAN make this happen! Thanks this week for help from Ole Marius Ringstad, who did the sound design for the episode. Stay tuned for an update about next season, coming in the autumn.

The Alchemists: Turning wild water into white coal

Season 2, Ep. 10
The secrets behind how Norwegian scientists and engineers harnessed the country’s wild waterfalls by developing super efficient turbines — and how advances in turbine technology being developed now may be the future in a zero-carbon world. They include an engineer who figured out how to take advantage of national fervour and build the 1900s equivalent of a super computer, a WWII resistance fighter who saw something special in tiny temperature differences, and researchers today, who are finding ways to cut environmental impacts from current hydropower plants and craft the designs we need to confront climate change.The guests on today's show were Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug, Vera Gütle and Johannes Kverno, with cameo appearances by Hans Otto Frøland and Svein Richard Brandtzæg.You can read an article written to accompany the podcast, with photographs from the lab here There's also an online photo gallery with a brief history of the Waterpower Laboratory here.You can read more about some of the research being done at the lab here:HydroFlex: The HydroFlex project is a four year long, € 5.4 million research project financed through EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, coordinated by Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug and based at NTNU’s Waterpower Laboratory. The aim of the project is to increase the value of hydro power through increased flexibility in operations.Stojkovski, Filip; Lazarevikj, Marija; Markov, Zoran; Iliev, Igor; Dahlhaug, Ole Gunnar. (2021) Constraints of Parametrically Defined Guide Vanes for a High-Head Francis Turbine. Energies. vol. 14 (9).Gütle, Vera. (2021) How to avoid gas supersaturation in the river downstream from a hydropower plant. MSc thesis.

The Detectives: Hunting toxic chemicals in the Arctic

Season 2, Ep. 9
Baby grey seals. Polar bears. Zooplankton on painkillers. How do toxic chemicals and substances end up in Arctic animals — and as it happens, native people, too? Our guests on today's show are Bjørn Munro Jenssen, an ecotoxicologist at NTNU, Jon Øyvind Odland, a professor of global health at NTNU and a professor of international health at UiT —The Arctic University of Norway, and Ida Beathe Øverjordet, a researcher at SINTEF.One of the most useful websites on arctic pollution is the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, AMAP. Rachel Carson's book is Silent Spring.Here's a selection of articles from today's episode:Sørmo, E.G., Salmer, M.P., Jenssen, B.M., Hop, H., Bæk, K., Kovacs, K.M., Lydersen, C., Falk-Petersen, S., Gabrielsen, G.W., Lie, E. and Skaare, J.U. (2006), Biomagnification of polybrominated diphenyl ether and hexabromocyclododecane flame retardants in the polar bear food chain in Svalbard, Norway. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 25: 2502-2511. https://doi.org/10.1897/05-591RBourgeon, Sophie; Riemer, Astrid Kolind; Tartu, Sabrina; Aars, Jon; Polder, Anuschka; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Routti, Heli Anna Irmeli. (2017) Potentiation of ecological factors on the disruption of thyroid hormones by organo-halogenated contaminants in female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Barents Sea. Environmental Research. vol. 15Nuijten, RJM; Hendriks, AJ; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Schipper, AM. (2016) Circumpolar contaminant concentrations in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and potential population-level effects. Environmental Research. vol. 151.Chashchin, Valery; Kovshov, Aleksandr A.; Thomassen, Yngvar; Sorokina, Tatiana; Gorbanev, Sergey A.; Morgunov, Boris; Gudkov, Andrey B.; Chashchin, Maxim; Sturlis, Natalia V.; Trofimova, Anna; Odland, Jon Øyvind; Nieboer, Evert. (2020) Health risk modifiers of exposure to persistent pollutants among indigenous peoples of Chukotka. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). vol. 17 (1).

Old bones and modern germs

Season 2, Ep. 6
Trondheim, Norway’s first religious and national capital, has a rich history that has been revealed over decades of archaeological excavations. One question archaeologists are working on right now has a lot of relevance in during a pandemic: Can insight into the health conditions of the past shed light on pandemics in our own time? Now, with the help of old bones, latrine wastes and dental plaque, researchers are learning about how diseases evolved in medieval populations, and what society did to stem them — and how that might help us in the future.Our guests for this episode were Axel Christophersen, a professor of historical archaeology at the NTNU University Museum; Tom Gilbert, a professor at the NTNU University Museum and head of the Center for Evolutionarly Hologenomics based at the University of Copenhagen; and Elisabeth Forrestad Swensen, a PhD candidate at the NTNU University Museum. You can read more about the MedHeal research project on the project’s home page.Here are some of the academic articles on medieval Trondheim related to the podcast: Zhou Z, Lundstrøm I, Tran-Dien A, Duchêne S, Alikhan NF, Sergeant MJ, Langridge G, Fotakis AK, Nair S, Stenøien HK, Hamre SS, Casjens S, Christophersen A, Quince C, Thomson NR, Weill FX, Ho SYW, Gilbert MTP, Achtman M. Pan-genome Analysis of Ancient and Modern Salmonella enterica Demonstrates Genomic Stability of the Invasive Para C Lineage for Millennia. Curr Biol. 2018 Aug 6;28(15):2420-2428. Stian Suppersberger Hamre, Valérie Daux- Stable oxygen isotope evidence for mobility in medieval and post-medieval Trondheim, Norway,Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol. 8, 2016, pp 416-425, A transcript of the show is available here.

Darwin had Galapagos finches. Norway has… house sparrows?

Season 1, Ep. 5
The different species of Galapagos finches, with their specially evolved beaks that allow them to eat specific foods, helped Charles Darwin understand that organisms can evolve over time to better survive in their environment. Now, nearly 200 years later and thousands of miles away, biologists are learning some surprising lessons about evolution from northern Norwegian populations of the humble house sparrow (Passer domesticus).Darwin’s finches evolved on the exotic, volcanic Galapagos Islands. NTNU’s house sparrows are dispersed over a group of 18 islands in Helgeland, in an archipelago that straddles the Arctic Circle.Every summer since 1993, when NTNU Professor Bernt-Erik Sæther initiated the House Sparrow Project, a group of biologists has travelled to the islands collect data on the sparrows. They capture baby birds, measure different parts of their bodies, take a tiny blood sample, and then put a unique combination of coloured rings on their legs that help researchers identify the birds throughout their lifetime.Those decades of research have given researchers information that can be helpful in managing threatened and endangered species. They have also done some experiments where they made evolution happen in real time — and then watched what happened when they let nature run its course.And then there was the series of experiments where they learned more than you might want to know about sparrow dating preferences, and about rogue sparrow fathers who court exhausted sparrow mothers — and then fathered children with the cute little she-bird next door. Our guests for today’s show were Henrik Jensen, Thor Harald Ringsby and Stefanie Muff. You can find a transcript of the show here. Selected academic and popular science articles: From NTNU’s online research magazine, Norwegian SciTech News:Why aren’t house sparrows as big as geese?Inbreeding detrimental for survivalWhy house sparrows lay big and small eggs On DarwinDarwin, Charles (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: J. Murray. Weiner, J. (2014). The beak of the finch: A story of evolution in our time. Random House.Sulloway, F. J. (1982). Darwin and his finches: The evolution of a legend. Journal of the History of Biology, 15, 1-53. Sulloway, F. J. (1982). Darwin's conversion: the Beagle voyage and its aftermath. Journal of the History of Biology, 15,  325-396. Academic articles from the House Sparrow Project:Araya-Ajoy, Yimen; Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Kvalnes, Thomas; Rønning, Bernt; Holand, Håkon; Myhre, Ane Marlene; Pärn, Henrik; Jensen, Henrik; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Wright, Jonathan. (2019) Characterizing morphological (co)variation using structural equation models: Body size, allometric relationships and evolvability in a house sparrow metapopulation. Evolution. vol. 73 (3).Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Pärn, Henrik; Holand, Håkon; Engen, Steinar; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2017) Reversal of response to artificial selection on body size in a wild passerine bird. Evolution. vol. 71 (8).Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Boner, Winnie; Gillespie, Robert; Holand, Håkon; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Monaghan, Pat. (2015) On being the right size: Increased body size is associated with reduced telomere length under natural conditions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences. vol. 282 (1820).Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Skjelseth, Sigrun; Pärn, Henrik; Herfindal, Ivar; Borg Pedersen, Åsa Alexandra; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik. (2017) Demographic influences of translocated individuals on a resident population of house sparrows. Oikos. vol. 126 (10).Jensen, Henrik; Steinsland, Ingelin; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2006) Indirect selection as a constraint on the evolution of sexual ornaments and other morphological traits in the House Sparrow. Journal of Ornithology = Journal fur Ornithologie. vol. 147.Jensen, Henrik; Svorkmo-Lundberg, Torkild; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2006) Environmental influence and cohort effects in a sexual ornament in the house sparrow, Passer domesticus. Oikos. vol. 114.Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik; Engen, Steinar. (2006) Demographic characteristics of extinction in a small, insular population of house sparrows in Northern Norway. Conservation Biology. vol. 20.Skjelseth, Sigrun; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Tufto, Jarle; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2006) Dispersal patterns within a meta-population of House Sparrows after an introduction experiment. Journal of Ornithology = Journal fur Ornithologie. vol. 147.Hoset, Katrine S.; Espmark, Yngve; Fossøy, Frode; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Jensen, Henrik; Wedege, Morten I; Moksnes, Arne. (2014) Extra-pair paternity in relation to regional and local climate in an Arctic-breeding passerine. Polar Biology. vol. 37 (1).Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Skjelseth, Sigrun; Pärn, Henrik; Herfindal, Ivar; Borg Pedersen, Åsa Alexandra; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik. (2017) Demographic influences of translocated individuals on a resident population of house sparrows. Oikos. vol. 126 (10).Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Lien, Sigbjørn; Billing, Anna Maria; Elgvin, Tore Oldeide; Trier, Cassandra Nicole; Niskanen, Alina Katariina; Tarka, Maja; Slate, Jon; Sætre, Glenn-Peter; Jensen, Henrik. (2020) A genome-wide linkage map for the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) provides insights into the evolutionary history of the avian genome. Molecular Ecology Resources. vol. 20 (2).Holand, Håkon; Jensen, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Tufto, Jarle; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald. (2019) Parasite prevalence increases with temperature in an avian metapopulation in northern Norway. Parasitology. vol. 146 (8).Kvalnes, Thomas; Røberg, Anja Ås; Jensen, Henrik; Holand, Håkon; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald. (2018) Offspring fitness and the optimal propagule size in a fluctuating environment. Journal of Avian Biology. vol. 49 (7).Lundregan, Sarah; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Gohli, Jostein; Niskanen, Alina Katariina; Kemppainen, Petri; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Kvalnes, Thomas; Pärn, Henrik; Rønning, Bernt; Holand, Håkon; Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Båtnes, Anna Solvang; Selvik, Linn-Karina M.; Lien, Sigbjørn; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Husby, Arild; Jensen, Henrik. (2018) Inferences of genetic architecture of bill morphology in house sparrow using a high-density SNP array point to a polygenic basis. Molecular Ecology. vol. 27 (17).Silva, Catarina; McFarlane, S. Eryn; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rönnegård, Lars; Billing, Anna Maria; Kvalnes, Thomas; Kemppainen, Petri; Rønning, Bernt; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Qvarnström, Anna; Ellegren, Hans; Jensen, Henrik; Husby, Arild. (2017) Insights into the genetic architecture of morphological and sexually selected traits in two passerine bird species. Heredity. vol. 119 (3).Stubberud, Marlene Wæge; Myhre, Ane Marlene; Holand, Håkon; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik. (2017) Sensitivity analysis of effective population size to demographic parameters in house sparrow populations. Molecular Ecology. vol. 26 (9).Holand, Håkon; Kvalnes, Thomas; Gamelon, Marlène; Tufto, Jarle; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2016) Spatial variation in senescence rates in a bird metapopulation. Oecologia. vol. 181 (3).Rønning, Bernt; Broggi, Juli; Bech, Claus; Moe, Børge; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Pärn, Henrik; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik; Grindstaff, Jennifer. (2016) Is basal metabolic rate associated with recruit production and survival in free-living house sparrows?. Functional Ecology. vol. 30 (7).Holand, Håkon; Jensen, Henrik; Tufto, Jarle; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald. (2015) Endoparasite infection has both short- and long-term negative effects on reproductive success of female house sparrows, as revealed by faecal parasitic egg counts. PLOS ONE. vol. 10 (5).Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Boner, Winnie; Gillespie, Robert; Holand, Håkon; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Monaghan, Pat. (2015) On being the right size: Increased body size is associated with reduced telomere length under natural conditions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences. vol. 282 (1820).