Past Climate Change and Perspectives for Archaeological Research: Examples from Norway, Svalbard, and Adjoining Seas

Morten Hald


Natural climate change has occurred throughout the history of Earth. Human impact on climate change has increased over the last two centuries. During the Quaternary period, climate change on 103–105-year time scales is linked to the so-called Milankovitch cycles that have caused variations in the amount of energy from the sun reaching the Earth. This factor is thought to be a main cause for the shifts between glacial and interglacial periods during the Quaternary. However, superimposed on long-term natural climate change, are events of shorter duration (10–102-year time scales) climatic events. The present paper discusses examples of climate changes on land and in adjoining seas off Norway and Svalbard. The climatic changes from the last glacial maximum to the present, including the abrupt glacial-interglacial transition when the first human settlements occurred in northern Norway, are a particular focus of the paper. Finally, future climate perspectives at the high northern latitudes are discussed.

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