Winter, properly

This has been an amazing winter. There’s been snow on the ground for two months now. Weeks have gone by very little time spent above freezing. And every time it seems like the snow might be melting, another batch comes down. Two years ago I wrote an entry called This winter’s limp handshake. We’re certainly getting a firm handshake this winter.

On the way home from dinner on a particularly cold and windy evening The building next to ours Almost home

This is not typical. Denmark had much milder winters than Americans tend to think. It is, after all, at the same latitude as Southern Alaska. But this January was Denmark’s coldest in twenty three years. Several I’ve talked to say they don’t remember a winter like this. 

A good night to stay in Christianshavn, our old neighborhood Coming home after work

Denmark generally has a mild climate thanks to the North Atlantic Drift, part of the gulf stream, a natural flow of warm water that transports warm water across the Atlantic, from the Gulf of Mexico to Northern Europe. Without the gulf stream, Northern Europe would have a much, much colder climate. Consider this: Copenhagen is 750 miles further north than St. Paul, Minnesota.

At the office Open fields near the airport Christianshavn canal

The most grim global warming scenarios include a chance that the gulf stream is being or will be weakened or disrupted. This would be due to the massive amounts of fresh water that is being dumped into the ocean from both poles as the ice caps melt. If this turns out to be true, the problems caused by rising sea levels will be joined by problems resulting from massive crop failures and soaring energy usage in much of Europe and North America (Porland and Seattle are also much warmer than they would be due to ocean currents.

Icy salt-water in Københavns havn (Copenhagen harbor) Icy salt-water in Københavns havn (Copenhagen harbor) Boats in Holmen

(Yes, it’s counter-intuitive, but global warming may make some parts of the planet colder. This fact has led some to call for a stop to calling it “global warming.” Thomas Friedman of the New York Times suggests global weirding instead.)

On a lighter note, this winter has been much more bearable than the last two. The hard part about winter here is the lack of light (sunset on December 20th last year is at 3:38 PM). But the snow-cover makes a huge difference, maximizing what little light there is. In contrast the last two winters were rainy, making them seem even darker.

4 Thoughts on “Winter, properly

  1. Probably a better name would be Global Climate Terminology Change.

  2. Ha! That’s pretty clever. Way better than the other denial phrases floating around like, “globull” warming

  3. In contract the last two winters were rainy, making them seem even darker. “Contract,” huh? Does that mean God made human sign some kind of pact regarding the seasons? Otherwise, a very interesting commentary.

  4. You sure know how to rub typos in a guys face, Art. It’s fixed now (but not forgotten!)

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