- Climate scientists believe that the severe winter cold and heavy snow we experienced this year will not become the new normal.
- Although Scandinavia had a colder autumn and winter than usual, warmer winters are expected in the future.
- However, large amounts of snow will become more common in areas that are generally colder, such as northern Norway and higher in the mountains. We may get winters like this again in the lowlands, but less often.
The records are so far lined up this winter, and the ice has been able to drive both north and south.
— The winter we have just experienced has been a bit severe, but we see no signs that such severe cold winters will be here in the future. There is no reason to believe that.
That's what Torey Furevik, director of the Nansen Center, tells Talkblade.
He points out that several factors have contributed to the cold and snowy conditions in Norway so far.
First, we have global warming.
All around us, southward in Europe and westward toward North America and Greenland, this winter has been warmer than usual. Then the air masses that hit Norway from here contain more moisture than they would otherwise.
– The entire northern hemisphere was very warm, says Furevik.
– A little special
The low pressures that usually hit Norway have moved further south of us since October, leading to record rainfall in both France, the UK and Denmark, Furevik says.
– We don't really get rain until just before Christmas, which is a bit special.
On the other hand, in Scandinavia, autumn and winter were colder than usual, he explains.
When moist air masses are hit and cooled, it results in more snow than usual.
– It will be similar to what we see in summer. We may have long periods of drought, but when the precipitation first arrives, it is more frequent due to warmer air with more moisture than before.
– May occur from time to time
However, snow and ice winters will not be the norm in the coming years, Furevik believes. At least not in the lowlands of southern Norway, like now.
– The trend we clearly expect and the models are showing will be a warmer winter. So I guess what we're experiencing now is a rarer and rarer winter.
However, if it's cold enough, winters like this can happen again and again.
– This may happen occasionally, but low-lying areas are expected to have less snow in the future.
In areas that are generally colder, such as northern Norway and higher in the mountains, heavy snowfall will become more common now and then, according to Feuervik.
Borger Aams, a climate scientist at the Center for Climate Research – Cicero has the same analysis as his climate scientist Feurevik.
– Some winters will be cold and snowy in the future, but less likely, he says.
Polaris over Norway
Amas points to the reason why it has been cold in Norway so far this winter. The front is the separation between light air from Europe and cold arctic air. The divide often runs across Norway, he says.
– The polar is now open in January to drive cold arctic air south. This may happen more often with global warming. So even though we're usually mild, we can get more of those very cold spells.
If this year's winter was unusual, he wasn't sure.
– Approximately no rain in western Norway is within normal range, and elements of Siberian cold and snow in eastern Norway are within normal range.
However, he acknowledges that from a 30-year perspective, this season has been unusually cold and unusually snowy.
– but in a long view, that's not necessarily so unusual. We had good old fashioned winter weather then.
records in order
The Meteorological Agency has set several records for both cold and snow this season, says Meteorologist Han Heidel.
For example, in January, the Risør fire station in Agder measured 120 centimeters of snow, a new January record.
BERGEN – With 12 new centimeters of snow in Florida, the snow depth is now 38 centimeters. This much snow has not been measured in January since 1987 🤓 The map illustrates how unusual this is👇
Maps for all measuring stations in Norway can be found here https://t.co/mAjtuk5WLE ❄️ pic.twitter.com/smDsZJ2dgX
— The Meteorologist (@TheMeteorologen) January 19, 2024
The codal measurement station at Skene in Telemark did the same at 135 cm.
Although we have wandered through the snow, this is a far cry from the snow record from 1918.
– The snow depth record in Norway is 586 cm, set on April 3 at Krjotrust in Finns. So we can be happy that the Norwegian record for living space has not been broken. It would have been too scary, Heiberg says.
– Long winter
Heiberg also notes that warmer winters with less snow will probably become the norm.
Is winter already feeling a little long this year?
– What was a bit unusual this year was the three months of below normal temperatures in late autumn and early winter. When this happens in early winter, the winter lasts longer because we have more snow, Heiberg adds:
– This contributes to the fact that we may feel that the winter has been longer than normal. Most of the precipitation has come as snow.
However, according to Heiberg, this will even out during the year, with some months ending up below normal and some months above.
– For example, if it is very hot in February or March, it can eat part of the snow.
He cites 2018 as an “extreme example.”
– Despite the severe drought that summer, there was plenty of rain that autumn. Heiberg says that when we saw all of Norway during the New Year, the country as a whole saw the year as very ordinary.
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