Photo Essay: Climate Change, Sea Level and the Vikings

by |September 26, 2017

A thousand years ago, powerful Viking chieftans flourished in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, above the Arctic Circle. In an environment frequently hovering on the edge of survivability, small shifts in climate or sea level could mean life or death. People had to constantly adapt, making their living from the land and the sea as best they could. By plumbing the bottoms of deep lakes near key archaeological sites, scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions are trying to understand how the Vikings did it.   READ THE FULL SCIENTIFIC STORY

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In the chilly 24-hour daylight of a spring night, Lamont-Doherty climatologist William D’Andrea surveys Borgpollen, an inland bay on the island of Vestvagoya. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a series of passages, the bay once was home to Vikings and their seagoing ships. Some of the islands’ best crop and grazing land is in surrounding hills and valleys, but it was often marginal, depending on weather.

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