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The Rocky Mountains affect Norway’s climate

Both the Gulf Stream and the Norwegian Sea have a major impact on Norway's climate. However, it turns out that weather conditions are also influenced by geographical elements from much farther away. The Rocky Mountains, for instance, play a major role in weather in Norway.

Running simulations on advanced climate models, researchers can now study climate in completely new ways impossible just a few years ago. For example, one can see the simulated outcome of “removing” major mountain ranges known to influence climate.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons The Rocky Mountains play a major role in weather in Norway. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Enormous air masses

When researchers at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen removed the Rocky Mountains of western North America from their simulation program, they were surprised to discover the extent to which this distant mountain range affected Norway’s climate.

Because of the Rocky Mountains, enormous air masses from the west are forced more southward, where they absorb heat and moisture before heading in Norway’s direction. In this way, the mountain range helps to create the dominant southwesterly winds that bring so much warm, moist air towards Norway.

It is primarily thanks to these winds, believe the Bergen-based climate researchers, that most of Norway has an annual mean temperature well above the freezing point. This is 5°C to 10°C warmer than the annual mean temperatures at the same latitude around the earth.

This new knowledge about the storms from the west is one of many findings from research activities funded under the Research Council of Norway’s programme Climate Change and its Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA).

About NORKLIMA

Through the large-scale programme on Climate Change and its Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA), the Norwegian Government and the Research Council of Norway have funded research groups that have produced fundamentally important knowledge about our planet’s climate.

Two long-term, nationally-coordinated projects – RegClim (1997-2006) and NorClim (2007-2011) – have generated valuable new knowledge about regional climate in Norway as well as the climate of the North Atlantic Ocean.

 

Written by:
Bård Amundsen/Else Lie. Translation: Darren McKellep/Victoria Coleman
Published:
 03.09.2012
Last updated:
10.09.2012