"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Are you planning on traveleling to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blogs

The third Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class traveled to the Arctic Circle in summer 2014. Check out their blog entries from this summer!

Ringing the Bells at the Banner of Peace

Landscape Architecture Doctoral candidate Caroline Wisler reflects on her travels to Bulgaria.

Zach Grotovsky's Summer 2013: 14 Cities, 15 Weeks, One Long Adventure

University of Illinois graduate student in Germanic Literatures and Languages Zach Grotovsky documents his travels throughout Eastern Europe in the summer of 2013.

Polar Bears

The Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class spotted polar bears in Norway!

Peaceful Opposition in Izmir

MAEUS student Levi Armlovich describes his experiences with the protests in Izmir, Turkey.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 2

This blog was originally posted on the Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blog on June 25, 2014.

by Lauren Krone and Samantha Morrow

During week two we focused on land-formation and changes due to glacial movement and climate change in the Arctic regions. In the beginning of the week we discussed how climate change is affecting the arctic region more than other parts of the world. This is due in large part to energy transfers in both ocean and atmospheric currents. Pole ward heat transport occurs as extra energy from the tropics is exported to the poles, creating larger increases in temperature at the poles. Specifically, the Arctic is heating faster due to local feedback effects of albedo when the ice melts, and the Arctic has greater amplitudes in the rosby waves in the atmosphere.

Later in the week we looked at glacial dynamics and movement. Over time, as snow falls and layers on itself, it changes in shape and density. Snow begins as feathery and delicate flakes. As it settles and packs it changes to more hardened grain-shaped textures. It also continuously melts and refreezes. This increases density, changing from 200 kg/m3 to 840 kg/m3 over the course of about 120 years. In addition, as the ice increases in density air gets trapped in the glacier. This has recently been used to analyze the atmosphere’s composition over time.

There are three main types of glacial movement, depending on different characteristics of the glacier.
Internal deformation, or creep, occurs when the glacier is frozen to the bedrock, and this movement dominates for cold-based glaciers. Glaciers can also move by sliding across the bed, or basil sliding, within warm-based glaciers. The final type of movement is deformation or flow of underlying sediment sliding across till, which also occurs for warm-based glaciers. Furthermore, different parts of the glacier move at different velocities. The center of a glacier moves much faster than the edges due to less friction. The glacier can also be divided in to two parts. The top half is know as the accumulation zone, where snow and ice increase from snowfall, wind-drift, and avalanching. The bottom half is know as the ablation zone, where ice leaves the glacial system due to melting, calving, and sublimation. In the middle of these two zones is the ideal place to take ice cores for examining the atmosphere, because snow falls straight down at that spot, as opposed to curving away from the initial point.

At the end of the week we looked at how glaciers affected Stockholm in particular. The esker in the glacier covering Stockholm created hills, which used to be the bed of a river. As Stockholm was built, part of the esker was flattened and the material was used for building. In addition, water moves easily through the esker, and as it moves it is cleaned. This was convenient, because wells at the top of the esker would produce clean water, providing the city with a reliable resource. Another affect of the glacier on Stockholm’s landscape is the constant land-rise of the city, creating the appearance of sea levels falling. This is due to glacial isostatic rebound, occurring at about 3 mm per year. We were able to observe these effects in person. We visited King Carl IX’s fishing house from the late 1600s. While it used to be on the edge of the water, we had to walk several meters to reach today’s edge, providing us with a clear representation of the land being created from the isostatic rebound. We finished the week by discussing different periglacial processes and landforms, which we hope to see in the Arctic!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Week 1

This blog was originally posted on the Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blog on June 25, 2014.

by Tyler Kamp and Vadim Velichkin

The first week of the course took place at KTH and the focus was on societal changes in the Arctic. We

followed a number of lectures focusing on the following topics:

The Arctic Region

Traditional Sami House
There is not a single way of defining the Arctic region. Different methods are used when it comes to defining what the Arctic is. These can be geographical, e.g. defining the Arctic as a region north of the Arctic Circle, climatological, e.g. the Arctic is then defined as an area north of a 10°C July isotherm, biological, e.g. tree line can be used to define the Arctic region (the Arctic starts where the trees are not capable of growing) and political, e.g. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). No matter which definition is used the Arctic remains a large part of the Earth’s surface with an area of approx. 40 million square kilometers. There are 8 states that have their territories in the Arctic: Russia, USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland. As of now there are 4 million people living in the Arctic, 10 % of which are indigenous people.

Governance in a Changing Arctic

Governance is part of the social structure that organizes society.  it is a collective effort of society to define and achieve social goals as a navigation device for addressing social challenges.  As institutions, there are jointly agrees norms, roles and procedures that guide behavior and expectations of each other.  Goals of governance include designating a homeland for indigenous people, opening lands of discovery and military arenas, and to create an environmental linchpin.  The Arctic Council is one such governing body aimed for these goals.  It is a soft law body consisting of 8 states with stake in the Arctic  including United States, Russia, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Finland. There is also UNCLOS which governs the law in Arctic waters.  Some factors that go into governing a changing Arctic include managing natural resources, ensuring ecosystem services, and guiding adaptation and transformation.

The Front Part of the Nordic
Museum in Stockholm
Sweden in the Arctic

Sweden has had a long history in the Arctic dating back to the 13th century.  The motives were to gain power through expansion and add taxation, increasing income.  Later the Arctic became an important location for the lucrative whaling business, and after that it became important for resources, scientific research and military defense.  Most of Sweden's income is still coming from lumber and mining from the northern part.  From the 18th century there has been increased curiosity in the science and natural phenomena, and has continued since then.  During the 19th century there was a large amount of scientific expeditions to the Arctic.

Sami in Sapmi

The Sapmi region is a transnational region spanning 4 countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. Sapmi makes up 35% of Sweden’s land area.  Contrary to popular believe only 10% of the Sami make a living in Reindeer husbandry, and they are focused in Sami Villages.  Most Sami live modern ordinary lives.  The colonization of the Sapmi by the Swedish state began in the 12th century.  But there was relatively little interest in the North, instead concentrating east.  Beginning in the 13th century, the government looked north because of motives previously stated.

Study Visits

We visited the Nordic culture museum and the Skansen museum to look at the representation of the Sami today. An interesting fact is that in the museums that we have visited there hasn’t been much information about Sami people. The Nordic museum tried to show how the Sami culture evolves with the modern culture and they are not just Reindeer herder nomads.  The Skansen museum showed only the old Sami huts and a brief poster explaining the Sami are not all reindeer herders as well.