Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Scandinavian Hydropower Production and Energy Markets

  • 373 Accesses

  • 39 Citations


Dramatic swings in the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) during the 1990s motivated the authors to build a statistical model of NAO impacts on hydropower production and energy markets in Scandinavia. Variation in the NAO index is shown to explain 55% of the variance of streamflow in Norway and up to 30% of the variance in Norway's hydropower output. It is also possible to identify the influence of NAO anomalies on electricity consumption and prices. Government liberalization allowed a financial market to grow around the international trading of electricity, which in Norway is produced almost entirely from hydropower. The model offers a possible tool for predicting the effects of future NAO movements on hydropower production and energy prices in Scandinavia. The potential influence of skillful climate prediction is discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Appenzeller, C., Weiss, A. K., and Staehelin, J., 2000, ‘North Atlantic oscillation modulates total ozone winter trends”, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27(8), 1131–1134.

  2. Armstrong, R. L. and Brodzik, M. J., 2002, Northern Hemisphere EASE-GRID Weekly Snow Cover and Sea Ice Extent Version 2, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, USA, CD-ROM.

  3. CADDET, 1997, Renewable energy newsletter, http://www.caddet-re.org/html/body_298fore.htm.

  4. Cook, E. R., 2002, ‘Multi-proxy reconstructions of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index: A critical review and a new well-verified winter index reconstruction back to AD 1400”, in J. Hurrell, Y. Kushnir, G. Ottersen and M. Visbeck (eds), The North Atlantic Oscillation, AGU monograph p. 134.

  5. Corti, S., Molteni, F., and Palmer, T. N., 1999, ‘Signature of recent climate change in frequencies of natural atmospheric circulation regimes’, Nature 398, 799–802.

  6. Cullen, H. M., D'Arrigo, R., Cook, E., and Mann, M. E., 2001, ‘Multiproxy reconstructions of the North Atlantic oscillation’, Paleoceanography 16, 27–37.

  7. Energy Information Agency (EIA), 2001, http://www.eia.doe.gov.

  8. Gillett, N. P., Graf, H. F., and Osborn, T. J., 2002, ‘Climate change and the North Atlantic Oscillation’, in J. Hurrell, Y. Kushnir, G. Ottersen and M. Visbeck (eds), The North Atlantic Oscillation, AGU monograph p. 134.

  9. Graf, H. F., Perlwitz, J., Kirchner, I., and Schult, I., 1995, ‘Recent northern winter climate trends, ozone changes and increased greenhouse gas forcing’, Contrib. Phys. Atmos. 68, 233–248.

  10. Hurrell, J. W., 1995, ‘Decadal trends in the North Atlantic oscillation regional temperatures and precipitation’, Science 269, 676–679.

  11. Hurrell, J. W., Kushnir, Y., Otterson, G., and Visbeck, M., 2002, ‘An overview of the North Atlantic oscillation’, in J. Hurrell, Y. Kushnir, G. Ottersen and M. Visbeck (eds), The North Atlantic Oscillation, AGU monograph p. 134.

  12. Hurrell, J. W. and van Loon, H., 1997, ‘Decadal variations associated with the North Atlantic oscillation’, Clim. Change 36, 301–326.

  13. IEA (International Energy Administration), 1997, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Energy Policies of IEA Countries, Norway 1997 Review http://www.iea.org., OECD Country Studies: Norway, OECD, London, 329 pp.

  14. Johnsen, T. A., 2001, ‘Demand, generation and price in the Norwegian market for electric power’, Energy Econ. 23, 227–251.

  15. Jones, P. D., Jónsson, T., and Wheeler, D., 1997, ‘Extension to the North Atlantic oscillation using early instrumental pressure observations from Gibraltar and South-West Iceland’, Int. J. Climatol. 17, 1433–1450.

  16. Kaplan, A., Cane, M., Kushnir, Y., Clement, A., Blumenthal, M., and Rajagopalan, B., 1998, ‘Analyses of global sea surface temperature 1856–1991’, J. Geophys. Res. 103(18), 567–618, 589.

  17. LDEO and IRI Climate Data Library, 2001, NOAA NCDC GCPS,http://ingrid.ldeo.columbia.edu.

  18. Lunde, T. and Midttun, A., 1987, ‘Electricity forecasting in Norway: Administrative centralism’, in Baumgartner and Midttun (eds), The Politics of Energy Forecasting, Oxford University Press, New York, 314 pp.

  19. Marshall, J., Kushnir, Y., Battisti, D., Chang, P., Czaja, A., Dickson, R., Hurrell, J., McCartney, M., Saravanan, R., and Visbeck, M., 2001, ‘North Atlantic climate variability: Phenomena, impacts, and mechanisms’, Int. J. Climatol. 21, 1863–1898.

  20. McKee, T. B., Doesken, N. J., and Kleist, J., 1993, ‘The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales’, Preprints, 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, California, p. 179.

  21. NCDC, 2002, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/.

  22. Nord Pool, 2001, http://www.nordpool.com.

  23. Norsk Hydro, 2001, http://www.hydro.com.

  24. ODIN (Norwegian Government Document Service), 2001, http://odin.dep.-no/oed/engelsk/dep/026001-990034/index-dok000-b-n-a.html.

  25. Palmer, T. N., 1999, ‘A nonlinear dynamical perspective on climate prediction’, J. Clim. 12, 575–591.

  26. Pindyck, R. S. and Rubinfeld, D. L., 1995, Microeconomics, 3rd edn., Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 699 pp.

  27. Rodwell, M. J. and Folland, C., 2002, ‘Atlantic air-sea interaction and seasonal predictability’, Q. J. Royal Met. Soc. 128(583), 1413–1443.

  28. Ropelewski, C. F. and Lyon, B., 2002, ‘Climate information systems and their applications’, in X. Rodo (ed), Current Uncertainties in the Climate System, Springer–Verlag, Berlin.

  29. Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1996, Electricity Shortage Looms, http://balder.dep.no/-daily/-1996/-08/daily159.html, Oslo Press Division, Norway Daily, 159(96).

  30. Saabye, H. E., 1942, ‘Brudstykker sd en Dagbog holden I Grsnland I Aarene 1770–1778’, in H. Osterman (ed), Medd Gronland.

  31. Saunders, M. A. and Qian, B., 2002, ‘Seasonal predictability of the winter NAO from North Atlantic sea surface temperatures’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 29(22), 2049.

  32. Shindell, D. T., Miller, R. L., Schmidt, G., and Pandolfo, L., 1999, ‘Simulation of recent northern winter climate trends by greenhouse-gas forcing’, Nature 399, 452–455.

  33. Swedish Power Association, 1999, Annual Report.

  34. Statistics Norway, 2002, http://www.ssb.no/www-open/english/.

  35. von Storch, H. and Zwiers, F. W., 1999, Statistical Analysis in Climate Research, Cambridge, p. 150.

  36. Walker, G. T. and Bliss, E., 1932, ‘World weather’, V. Mem. Roy. Meteor. Soc. 4, 53–84.

  37. The World Bank: World Development Indicators, 2004, http://devdata.worldbank.org/dataonline/.

  38. Xie, P. and Arkin, P. A., 1996, ‘Analysis of global monthly precipitation using gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model predictions’, J. Clim. 9, 840–858.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Jessie Cherry.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cherry, J., Cullen, H., Visbeck, M. et al. Impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Scandinavian Hydropower Production and Energy Markets. Water Resour Manage 19, 673–691 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-005-3279-z

Download citation


  • North Atlantic oscillation
  • social impacts
  • energy
  • hydropower
  • climate impacts