Norway, Norwegians, and Normal

The best part of my High School was getting out of it early to ski from Oslo to Trondheim across Norway’s Hardangervidda in 1981. My friend Raoul and I bought detailed maps, eider-down sleeping bags as well as fancy stoves and tents. We took our final exams (“Abitur”) 6 month ahead of schedule and just needed the cash to turn our dream into reality. Reading the old Icelandic saga of Egil Skallagrimsson as well as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, I worked a winter for the German Postal Service to earn the needed money to do the skiing in Norway before the German Draft calls up all graduating High School seniors in the fall. The trip was called off as Raoul fell madly in love with a Norwegian girl. We lost track of each other for 30 years until after I presented some of my Arctic work in Tromso, Norway to fellow Arctic scientist last December.

Annual mean precipitation, Norway.  [From Met. Office]

Annual mean precipitation, Norway.
[From Met. Office]

Annual mean temperature, Norway.  [From Met. Office]

Annual mean temperature, Norway.
[From Met. Office]

The 3-day Tromso visit during the polar night made me fall in love with my perception of Norway. From what I hear, see, and read, it is a strangely fascinating country of 5 million people, about as many as live in Philadelphia’s metropolitan area. Norway is a thin, long, and mountaineous country with extensive coasts both towards the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Arctic Ocean in the north. Its extend from Kristiansand in the south to Tromso in the north and covers about the same range of latitude as does Alaska. Unlike Alaska, however, its entire coastline has been ice-free all year for the last few thousand years, because the oceanic Atlantic Drift Current moves heat from tropical and subtropical oceans off America towards north-west Europe.

North-Atlantic Drift Current turning into the Norwegian Current that brigs warm Atlantic waters into the Arctic Ocean to the north of Norway and Spitsbergen. [Credits: Ruther Curry of WHOI and Cecilie Mauritzen of Norwegian] Meteorological Institute]

North-Atlantic Drift Current turning into the Norwegian Current that brigs warm Atlantic waters into the Arctic Ocean to the north of Norway and Spitsbergen. [Credits: Ruth Curry (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Cecilie Mauritzen (Norwegian Meteorological Institute)]

The ice-free coast places Norway’s oil, gas, and fishery resources within easy reach and partly explains Norway’s unique infrastructure above the Arctic circle that is far superior to any other Arctic country. This includes its neighbor Russia to the east as well as the US, Canada, and Greenland. Just look at this dense network of traffic web-cams above the Arctic Circle that all relay imagery and data in real-time via http://www.vegwesen.no

Norway's Arctic Web-Cams.

Norway’s Arctic Web-Cams.

This network of web-cams gives a fast visual of road conditions, weather, as well as stunning natural beauty of a wild land, snow, and sea scape. Just as stunning are the incredible high internet connection speeds. Have a look at the fixed web-cam next to a weather station on a roof of the University of Tromso, e.g., http://weather.cs.uit.no/ which features a daily time-lapse video archive from 2002 to the present:

Tromso-Now

Visiting Tromso, I have become addicted to this site. My morning coffee routine includes watching how the polar night changes to polar day. It was exciting to see the “blink” of the first sun rising between a low in the southern mountains on Jan.-21:

http://weather.cs.uit.no/video/2014/01/20140121-medium.avi

Oh, the above video link also includes a full moon streaking low above the horizon during an exceptionally clear night, a halo created by the sun just below the horizon, and the first sunrise and sunset as a mere blink between snow-capped mountains and ice-free fjords.

So, as I am contemplating to find a way to visit, work, and live in a country which publishes all citizen’s tax returns online, below is a semi-random list of witty blogs that describe Norwegian people, customs, and quirks with a loving sense of humor from unique perspectives that complements stories and imagery of the Norwegian TV series “Lilyhammer” that I watched on Netflix last month:

1. A French woman who moved to Norway via Denmark: Frog in the Fjord;
2. An American woman in Oslo: Edge of the Arctic;
3. An El Salvador woman who moved to Norway via France: An Expat’s Norway”.

Oh, yeah, Norway’s women team at the Olympic Games already won their first gold medal in cross-country skiing. Norway’s neighbor Russia hosts these games and this reminds of an incredibly funny chat that members of Pussy Riot had with Stephen Colbert (High Quality video) on Comedy Central with the low quality, faster loading video:

American TV at its best …

2 responses to “Norway, Norwegians, and Normal

  1. Yes Norway is just unreal!

  2. Christina Parsons

    What a wealth of knowledge and interests you have dear brother! Very impressive, as always! [removed by editor] Love you..and proud of you.

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