cover art for Tea bags on the tundra

63 Degrees North

Tea bags on the tundra

Season 3, Ep. 17

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:

You 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. Geoderma

Lee, 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 Science

Cai, 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

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  • 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.
  • 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
  • 14. Running rats and healing hearts

    In 1998, a young Norwegian exercise physiologist found that a technique he had used to help Olympic athletes could help heart patients too. But his idea made doctors sweat. One famous cardiologist told him that if he used his technique in human heart attack patients, he "would kill them."Today's show looks at what happened when our researcher, Ulrik Wisløff, defied the experts — and built a career learning how high intensity interval training can help everyone from heart patients and ageing Baby Boomers, and possibly even Alzheimer's patients — but not in the way you might think!Our guests on today's show are Ulrik Wisløff, Dorthe Stensvold and Atefe Tari.Here's a link to a rat on a treadmill photo.Here's a list of some of the research mentioned in the podcast, with links:Wisløff U, Helgerud J, Kemi OJ, Ellingsen O. Intensity-controlled treadmill running in rats: VO(2 max) and cardiac hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2001 Mar;280(3):H1301-10.Wisløff U, Støylen A, Loennechen JP, Bruvold M, Rognmo Ø, Haram PM, Tjønna AE, Helgerud J, Slørdahl SA, Lee SJ, Videm V, Bye A, Smith GL, Najjar SM, Ellingsen Ø, Skjaerpe T. Superior cardiovascular effect of aerobic interval training versus moderate continuous training in heart failure patients: a randomized study. Circulation. 2007 Jun 19;115(24):3086-94. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.675041. Epub 2007 Jun 4.Øivind Rognmo, Trine Moholdt, Hilde Bakken, Torstein Hole, Per Mølstad, Nils Erling Myhr, Jostein Grimsmo and Ulrik Wisløff. Cardiovascular Risk of High- Versus Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercise in Coronary Heart Disease Patients Circulation. 2012;126:1436-1440. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.123117Stensvold D, Viken H, Steinshamn S L, Dalen H, Støylen A, Loennechen J P et al. Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial BMJ 2020; 371 :m3485 Tari AR, Nauman J, Zisko N, Skjellegrind HK, Bosnes I, Bergh S, Stensvold D, Selbæk G, Wisløff U. Temporal changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and risk of dementia incidence and mortality: a population-based prospective cohort study. Lancet Public Health. 2019 Nov;4(11):e565-e574.Tari AR, Berg HH, Videm V, Bråthen G, White LR, Røsbjørgen RN, Scheffler K, Dalen H, Holte E, Haberg AK, Selbaek G, Lydersen S, Duezel E, Bergh S, Logan-Halvorsrud KR, Sando SB, Wisløff U. Safety and efficacy of plasma transfusion from exercise-trained donors in patients with early Alzheimer's disease: protocol for the ExPlas study. BMJ Open. 2022 Sep 6;12(9):e056964.
  • 13. Wax, wood and CO2

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

    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.
  • 11. Getting to Net Zero

    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.