“The most special [thing about 2015] was that we had so many instances of extreme precipitation,” Has Olav Hygen, a climate researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute said.
The institute released 2015’s final weather data while also casting a glance at Norway’s wetter and warmer future.
Hygen recalled the storm Nina, which hit Western Norway with heavy rainfalls and strong winds; Ole, which hit Nordland, Lofoten and Troms; Petra in Telemark, Buskerud and Vestfold, and Storm Roar in Trøndelag and Synne in Western Norway.
“It is very unique to have so much extreme rainfall. It is normal to have three to five storms, but not one’s that bring so much precipitation,” he said.
No major records
State meteorologist Bente Hval stressed that 2015 did not set any major weather records.
“But three impressions stand out: those rounds of powerful rainfall that lasted two to three days, heavy snowfall in the mountains that lasted long into summer and high temperatures,” she said.
“Despite a relatively cool summer, the spring was the third warmest since the late 1800s,” Hval added.
It was particularly the winter months that had temperatures above normal. But even though the summer was cool, there were exceptions – particularly on Svalbard.
“On Svalbard there have been 60 consecutive months with temperatures above normal. In December, we saw a record of 8.7 degrees,” she said.
“And there haven’t been temps under the normal level since 2010,” Hval added.
Hygen stated that 2015’s extreme weather events led to major damage.
“There weren’t short, intense storms but rather heavy rainfall over a few days. That led to major damage – each of the storms led to damages of up to half a million kroner,” he said.
Ida Kreutzer, the CEO of Finance Norway, expressed concerns about the economic consequences of climate change.
“We have good statistical data about the damage created by fires and traffic accidents. Now we need to build up knowledge about climate damage. It will have serious consequences, including increased demands for prevention. It is striking that we are not doing more preventive activities today,” Kreutzer said.
Warmer and wetter
In addition to looking back at 2015, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute also looked forward.
“We are confident that it will get warmer and wetter with more powerful showers that last several days,” Hygen said.
Snow will be less common in the lowlands, but the mountains could get more snow in the future, which could lead to increased local flooding.
The climate researcher said that climate change will bring both challenges and new opportunities, not least for farmers who will have extended growing seasons.
“But the farmers will get both better and worse conditions. It is difficult to predict today,” Hygen said, and pointed to new challenges included increased precipitation, new diseases and new species.