Winter Weirdness If there is a common thread across the north this winter it is how unusual and extreme the weather conditions have been in so many ways. Read in this edition dispatches from northwest and southern Alaska, along with stories about flooding in Finland and green slopes in Switzerland where winter sports have been disrupted by record setting mild and wet weather. NCO is praying for cold, snow and ice in the months ahead. Mike Brubaker, Editor
The last time the water levels were this high in some places was in the late 1990s or early 2000s. According to the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), floodwaters will likely spill onto fields and roads in parts of southern and western Finland, but not into buildings.
The word for it here is Schneemangel or snow shortage. There's a phrase for when the snow is plentiful too - das weisse Gold - white gold. It's a reflection of how many alpine communities depend on winter sports for their livelihoods. World Cup skiers will race on artificial snow this Saturday as the Alps see record high temperatures.
Theo Greenly /
KUCB - Unalaska /
December 29, 2022
A typical December brings about 6 inches of rain to Unalaska. But the island has already received more than 10 inches this month. Michael Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said an atmospheric river above the Eastern Aleutians acted as a funnel to allow warm and rainy weather to move from the south to the north, directly across the region.
Kavitha George, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage /
Alaska Public Media /
January 5, 2023
Climatologist Rick Thoman says climate change is driving this more extreme winter snowfall. As the oceans warm, more moisture evaporates into the air. Then, when the atmospheric conditions are right for a storm, that increased evaporation results in “heavier and heavier precipitation,” Thoman said. That’s in part why Anchorage saw 41.2 inches of snow last month, capping off its wettest year on record, according to the National Weather Service.
Kendra Lee, Kitrea P Takata-Glushkoff and Richard L Thoman Jr /
LEO Network /
December 5, 2022
December should have sea ice development in Norton Sound. But no sign of ice yet this year. Several storms have moved northward across the western Bering Sea and brought strong winds and bouts of above freezing weather to the Teller area and all of the Bering Strait region.
Residents in Hafnarfjörður, a small town just outside the capital area, have rescued multiple swans that have frozen to the icy surface of Hamarkotslækur creek during a recent spate of desperately cold weather in the country, RÚV reports.
The Northern Climate Observer is published by the Center for Climate and Health. We track news coverage from across the circumpolar north and provide readers with a curated roundup of climate change related events. Thank you for reading our newsletter and for paying attention to our changing world.
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Northern Climate Observer
The Northern Climate Observer is published weekly by the Center for Climate and Health. We track news from across the circumpolar north and provide readers with a curated roundup of climate change related events.