Surprising though it might seem, a global warming side effect seems to have made it very much possible to grow sunflowers in the arctic cold! Elisabeth Iversen’s garden on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen is a defiant reminder of a warmer south in an icy wilderness of polar bears, reindeer, seals and lichen.
In an Arctic research base, brightening life in what locals call the world’s most northerly permanent settlement, 1,200 km (750 miles) from the Pole. Originally built around a coal mine, it is now on the front line of Arctic climate research.
She also grows tomatoes, peas, parsley, rocket and cucumbers improbably flourishing on a latitude north of Alaska, with snow on the ground outside and reindeer wandering the streets. In the same greenhouse, a Dutch scientist is growing grass as part of a climate change study.
Alesund was founded as a coal town almost a century ago, it is one of Europe’s most isolated communities and a big draw for scientists. All around whom are signs of a bitter climate turning less hostile.
In the land where the sun sets for four months, sunflowers can be seen in the glasshouses, a stark reminder that global warming surely is warming the temperatures around the world. Stoked by human use of fossil fuels, changes are happening about twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere on the planet. Once exposed, dark ground or sea soak up far more heat than ice and snow, creating a vicious circle that perpetuates global warming.