Regular readers of my blog will know that I adore snowfall. They will also know how much I worry about global warming and the lack of cold weather in the northern hemisphere. With seasons changing and boiling hot extended summers, there is plenty to worry about. The recent snow in the UK is disruptive but simply isn’t enough.
What’s it all about?
A lot of people are upset that we had a few days of snow this week. It was the only bout of snow this winter in East Anglia and we had nothing more than a sprinkling last year. This random snow event is far from the regular coverings we used to get in England. In fact, the future of ice and snow is under threat, as my poem A World Without Ice illustrates.
Ski resorts in Scotland and the Swiss Alps have been missing out on their annual income due to a milder winter. This is becoming a trend which is having implications for wildlife and humans. With suggestions that the Arctic Circle is heating up seven times faster than everywhere else, I am rightly worried.
Some Interesting Facts
I was born in the late 1970s, when a really heavy snow blizzard smothered most of Britain. According to The Weather Outlook 1977 saw snowfall of 20-25cm every day for several days during one snow event.
In the Svalbard islands, north-west of Norway, the average winter temperatures were -13 to -16 degrees C in the 1960s. They are now between -9 to -12 degrees C, which is significantly cosier. This is according to the article – Svalbard With Greatest Changes In Winter Climate.
Another article expresses the concern that is mentioned in lots of environmental blog posts. EuroNews.green suggests that Polar Bears are waiting for a month longer than previously for the ice to return for winter. This means they are losing weight (potentially 2kg a day during this period).
Why is lack of Snow important?
If we lose our cold winters and our climate continues to warm rapidly, we face major difficulties. Loss of habitat will remove apex predators from ecosystems. This has massive ramifications for delicate ecosystems.
Snow and ice are white. This means they reflect a lot of sunlight and help to maintain cooler temperatures. Melting ice means less reflective surfaces which lead to a further increase in rising temperatures. In effect, melting speeds up climate change and the effect it has in other areas.
Permafrost is also important in all of this. Canada and Greenland are examples of places which have permanent frozen landscapes. Layers of ice, called Permafrost (permanent frost) are associated with Inuit communities and have now become threatened by climate change.
When this ice is depleted it allows carbon to become exposed which will leak back into the atmosphere as CO2 and add to the layer of gases insulating our planet. It is that particular zone of particles which traps warmer air in our atmosphere, thus exacerbating the perils of global warming.
In A Nutshell
In my view, we really have reached a turning point. A point at which destructive things are starting to accelerate. The general lack of snow is a sign of this. Along with longer hot summers and widening of uninhabitable land through a process known as desertification.
So yes, we are having a late winter snow event in the UK. But it doesn’t mean climate change is not happening. It simply illustrates that weather patterns are becoming more difficult to predict. We are experiencing far less snow than in previous decades and it should worry all of us.
David Attenborough famously said,“Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics.” (source – Newsround Jan 2020)
It is our turn to get this thing on the back foot. We have the power to influence change, politically and personally.
I will leave that there as a point for thought.
It would be wonderful to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments. Please also consider following my blog for more environmental articles and TV/ book reviews.