Changes and transitions in Western Norway

SpaceLAB gathering at Vatnahalsen and in Flåm

Photo: Inger Elisabeth Måren

Photo: Inger Elisabeth Måren

Academic staff from every strand of the geography discipline at the Geography department met in Flåm to take a closer look at the damages caused by the big flood last autumn, and to survey the reconstruction of the protected watercourse in the Flåm valley. A day of strong impressions laid the foundations for a reinforced interdisciplinary work on climate- and energy research at the Department of Geography.

Western Norway is highly exposed to climate changes, and at the same time we are in the midst of a great transition in the aftermaths of the changed conditions for the oil industry. As geographers we are interested in how cities, regions and local communities are prepared to deal with climate changes and transitions.

Our focus on Western Norway is part of the Department’s priority of climate and energy research, the Spaces of Climate and Energy Laboratory. The trip to Flåm was a two days interdisciplinary gathering at the Department where academic staff from both physical geography, environmental geography, development geography and economic geography participated.

The geographers were welcomed to Flåm by the mayor, Noralf Distad, who told us about the local community’s and the municipality’s experiences of the catastrophic flood the autumn of 2014, and how the inhabitants, emergency departments and the administration of the municipality dealt with the extensive emergency work. NVE, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, added to their story, about challenges and considerations they faced in the reconstruction of the Flåm water course, before they took us on an inspection through the valley.

Photo: Inger Elisabeth Måren

Photo: Inger Elisabeth Måren

Based on the impressions from the excursion and our combined geographical expertise, the second day was spent at Vatnahalsen hotel, where we discussed and made plans for new research, publications and teaching at the Department related to climate and energy.

This is a part of a project the Faculty of Social Sciences has together with local newspaper Bergens Tidende, with the aim to present the great societal challenges. The newspaper participated in parts of the excursion.