Dreaming of a white Christmas?

Swedish Climate

Swedens climate is usually defined as temperate in the southern and middle region of the country and polar in the north. Despite being located so far north Sweden has a warmer climate than Canada has on the same latitude, mainly because of the Golf Stream bringing warmer waters that pass by the west coast. As global warming continues unabated most experts expect a higher temperature increase in the northern hemisphere than for the global average. This is due to polar amplification which refers to the phenomenon that changes in Earth's radiation balance tends to produce a larger change in temperature near the poles than the planetary average. When reflective snow and ice melts it gives way to darker marine and terrestial surfaces which absorb more heat from the sun, in turn melting more snow, which causes more warming (i.e. reinforcing feedback loop). Winter temperatures, especially, is set to increase significantly. 

Winter in Europe

In 2006 SMHI established that the mean temperature in Sweden had increased with about +1C degree since the beginning of the 1990s, a very high increase over such a short time span. Beyond rising temperatures concrete signs in nature of a warmer climate has been observed in form of longer plant seasons, less snow cover etc. The Winter of 2007/2008 was extremely mild in Sweden and record warming was measured, since observations first began in 1880. This year, 2014, is set to brake the 2007 record and become the warmest year ever recorded in Sweden. According to the World Meterological Organization's regional centre for Europe 2014 will likely also become the warmest year on record for entire Europe. The marginal increase is about +0.3 degrees Celsius, from the 6.7C record in 2007 to 7C in 2014. Warm periods have dominated the entire year. The Spring in Europe was the warmest on record and Winter was the second warmest on record. Around 20 countries from Italy in the south to Norway in the north have experienced record warming this year. And 9 out of 10 of the warmest years ever recorded ocurred during the 21st century. Looking at the Winter anomaly chart below we can see that the Nordic countries and central Europe have recorded above average temperatures this winter. It doesn't look like we will have a white Christmas this year, at least not in southern Sweden.


The role of Climate Change

Global warming significantly contributed to the high 2014 temperatures, according to new research from three independent climate science teams from the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia. "In the early 1900s, before global warming played a significant role in our climate, the chances of getting a year as warm as 2014 were less than 1 in 10,000. In fact, the number is so low that we could not compute it with confidence"  - Geert Jan van Oldenborgh. The analysis by van Oldenborgh concluded that global warming has made a temperature anomaly like the one observed in 2014 in Europe at least 80 times more likely. In other words, warmer climate can be due to natural variability but climate change increases the likelihood of warmer weather.

Media Reporting

In a opinion piece, on SVT Opinion published today, meteorologist Per Holmgren wonders why Swedish mainstream media has not picked up on this piece of important news and what it would take to raise public debate on climate change and sustainable development running up to the Swedish re-election in March 2015. He suggest that crop failures in Europe and the US might wake people up to the dangers we face. In other words, as long as its only the poor who feel the impacts of climate change the rich world is not motivated to action. Many climate scientists have stuggled a long time with trying to communicate the dangers of climate change but without much success. This probably says more about human nature than it does climate scientists. As i noted in my previous post, emotion = action. We humans need a strong narrative, a story, compelling us to act. Data and information is not enough. Here journalism plays a crucial role. But leadership is also necessary. To bad we lack both good journalism and leadership, at least in the area of climate action.


Out of the ashes into the fire

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