Sheep graze in a field that was a harbor in the 15th Century
A Stone Age camp that used to be by the shore is now 200 km from the Baltic Sea. Sheep graze on what was the seabed in the 15th century. And Sweden’s port of Lulea risks getting too shallow for ships…
The uplift of almost a centimeter a year, one of the highest rates in the world, is part of a continuing geological rebound since the end of the Ice Age removed a vast ice sheet from regions around the Arctic Circle.
In the Lulea region just south of the Arctic Circle, mostly flat with pine forests and where the sea freezes in winter, tracts of land have emerged, leaving some Stone Age, Viking and Medieval sites inland.
That puts human settlements gradually out of harm’s way from sea flooding, unlike low-lying islands from Tuvalu to Kiribati or cities from New York to Shanghai. Facebook is investing in a new data center in Lulea on land that was once on the seabed….
Lulea’s old town, with a 15th century church and bright red-painted wooden houses, was originally built on an island for safety when it was as an outpost of the then Swedish-Finnish Kingdom to counter Russian influence near the Arctic Circle.
Now the village is high and dry, out of sight of the sea. Sheep graze on a field in what used to be the port. In one spot, Sweden’s coastline has risen about 300 meters since the Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago.
Many places, from North Carolina to Australia, have struggled with sea level rise amid property developers’ fears that it could wipe billions of dollars off values if coastal areas are re-defined as flood zones.
“Up in the north where land is rising most…there won’t be any problems this century,” said Thomas Hammarklint of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, since land rise would cancel out sea rise of up to a meter.
But he said that Stockholm, for instance, and areas in south and western Sweden where land is rising less fast might suffer.
The Earth provides us with an endless dialectic of change. We can use our skills as an adaptive species changing our own ways perhaps easier than trying to modify the landscape. Perhaps not.