How the last ice age changed Norway

September 2, 2018 - 06:20

Researchers are learning more about what happened when several thousand metres of ice covered Norway roughly 10 000 years ago.

(Picture text: Lenny Lemming helps show curious children of all ages how the last ice age affected Norway and northern Europe. Lenny travels through the ice age, explaining what he sees along the way. The lemming is one of the few creatures that survived the ice age in Norway. (Image from

Researchers at the University of Tromsø —the Arctic University of Norway have made an interactive map that shows how the ice cap that used to cover northern Europe has changed throughout the last ice age. It was at its thickest about 20 000 years ago.

The researchers, from the university’s Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) centre have also created an entire website “for children of all ages” to explain the newest findings about this dramatic part of the Earth’s history.

Learn more about the last Ice Age in northern Europe and explore the interactive map below.

Explore the interactive map above or click here to view fullscreen in a new tab.

The big melt 10 000 years ago

“The last ice age is a fascinating story of natural climate change,” says Maja Sojtaric in an article on She is head of the CAGE centre at the university.

The Earth’s northern hemisphere is thought to have been through as many as 30 ice ages during the last 3 million years, with the latest ice age lasting about 100 000 years. Each of these ice ages was broken up by about 10 000 years of warmer weather.

The Earth is currently in one of these inter-ice age periods.

The last ice age started about 35 000 years ago. This images shows the extent of the ice over northern Europe, when the ice cap was at its largest. The average temperature was about 10 degrees C lower than it is today, and the sea level was about 120 metres lower. The image is from the interactive map of the last ice age, where you can watch ice caps shrink and swell over time in northern Europe.

The researchers in Tromsø are working to convey the extent of the impact that the enormous ice cap had on the environment and people as it melted 10 000 years ago.

Follow the ice age and its changes on a map

The CAGE researchers have learned a lot about the variations in the extent of the ice over northern Europe, and how it affected both the land and ocean.

Norway’s rugged coastline with its steep sided fjords was strongly influenced by the ice age, as were inland rivers and valleys. The ice also created large inland lakes.

Link to interactive map.

The Science Centre of Northern Norway in Tromsø is also currently featuring an exhibit on the last ice age.


Read the Norwegian version of this article at


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