HABITAT - Foto: Brynjar Stautland

Fotograf: Brynjar Stautland

Climate change

The most visible sign of climate change in Sunnhordland is the significant reduction in the size of Bondhusbreen in Folgefonna over the past 20 years. Changes in fauna and flora on sea and land are not as pronounced and occur gradually, which might be perceived as natural variations. For instance, the populations of terns, common gulls, herring gulls, oystercatchers, greenfinches, and great tits are now on the red list, but the reasons for their decline are likely multifaceted. Access to food sources like sand eels may be a reason for the decline in seabird populations, but whether the reduction in sand eel populations is due to management or temperature remains uncertain. On a positive note, otters have reestablished along our coast after being absent due to intensive hunting until the mid-1900s. However, blue mussels have become rare along the beaches here and further south in Europe, with researchers attributing this to higher surface temperatures and increased mortality. Pacific oysters are rapidly colonizing our shores, perceived as a potential problem due to their sharp shells, unlike our native flat oysters. Japanese sea squirt, also known as sea pineapple, is another invasive species that could have significant consequences for aquaculture. It was imported via ships, but it's unclear whether increased temperatures contribute to its thriving in this area.

The causes of gradual climate changes are numerous, but many are working to find increasingly better answers and countermeasures. In the Geopark Sunnhordland, the Folgefonna Center in Rosendal is built around the themes of Glacier - Fjord - Water - Climate Change. The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research is one of the owners of the Folgefonna Center.