Environmental Adaptations

Environmental Adaptations


Norwegian city of Narvik, because of its spectacular mountain slopes. An evening in Mai 1999, Anna and two friends had gone off the trail on a ski trip to a local mountain when she fell.

What happened that day in 1999 changed her life and has redefined what is possible in cases of accidental hypothermia.

Anna slid down a steep, icy gully and ended up submerged head first in a hole in the ice in a mostly frozen stream. Only her skis and Telemark boots and bindings protruded from the thick, opaque ice. Using that tool, rescuers cut a hole downhill from Anna and pulled her through the opening. She had then been under the ice for about 80 minutes…

On the ECG, which the doctor on the helicopter had connected her to, there was a completely flat line, and at the hospital in Tromsø her core temperature was measured to 13,7 °C. No one had ever been that cold for that long and survived.

The end of this remarkable story is that Anna Bågenholm today is a radiologist at the hospital where she was saved.

Use your knowledge in temperature regulation to answer the following questions:

  1. Our body can lose heat to the environments in different ways. What of those ways do you think contributed to the greatest heat loss when Anna was trapped under the ice? (5 points)
  2. Anna was under water for about 80 minutes. How was it possible to survive such a long period under water without severe brain damage? Use your knowledge about metabolism in your answer. (10 points)
  3. Use your knowledge and describe with words, or alternatively make a simple model of our temperature regulation system. The model should at least contain the following; temperature regulating center, set-point, temperature receptors, increased/decreased heat loss, and increased/decreased heat production. (10 points)


During an Olympic Distance Triathlon the athletes perform:

1500 m swim, 40 km cycling and 10 km run

You know that elite male athletes use 1h: 40- 1h:55 min and elite women athletes use between 1h:50-2h:05 min for this event.

The location of the event usually has temperatures of 28- 33 degrees (approximately 80% humidity) during the day at the time of year when the triathlon is arranged.

As an exercise physiologist you have been given the task to prepare a column on the event organizers webpage. Here you shall inform the athletes on how to prepare their eating and drinking for the day of the event (before [same day], during and after the event) to avoid dehydration and to enhance physical performance. (25 points)

The information should not be given in more than 15 sentences.

PS! Precise information is often easier to understand and follow (for example; guidelines in grams per kilo body weight, % of total energy intake and/or household measures may be an easy way to help the athlete prepare. General information might be useful as well.)


  1. Discuss individual responses in endurance athletes to acute and long term altitude training? (12,5 points)
  2. At high altitude there is a risk of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS). Name 5 symptoms of AMS (self-limiting form). (3 points)
  3. Several people take Diamox (Acetazolamide) to ameliorate the symptoms of AMS. On the basis of the hemoglobin dissociation curve explain how Diamox works. (9,5 points)

Space Physiology

  1. Explain how microgravity affects the fluid distribution in the body. Which problems can this cause to an astronaut? (12,5 points)
  2. When performing Extravehicular activity (EVA) astronauts may be at risk for developing decompression sickness (DCS). Explain what DCS is and how exercise in combination with pre-breathing of 100% oxygen can reduce the risk of DCS. (12,5 points)
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