This winter has been unusually warm, crippling ski resorts, ruining holiday traditions, and dashing hopes of a white Christmas across the northern hemisphere. While the billions of tons of greenhouse pollution in our atmosphere sometimes encourage freak snowstorms, the primary effect of global warming on winter is, well, warmer temperatures — making white Christmases less likely. Temperature increases in some regions were off the charts in November, with northern Norway about 10°F warmer than average. In Finland, snow has been replaced by rain, killing World Cup and European Cup ski races, hurting retail sales, and adding to the gloom people feel from the long winter dark. This “black Christmas” shows the “footprint of global warming“:
Helsinki is experiencing uncharacteristically mild December temperatures, and only light dustings of snow have come and gone. “At the beginning of December it was on average six degrees warmer than is usual for this time of year,” meteorologist Pauli Jokinen told AFP. He said the snow’s no-show in the south of the country this year was partly due to natural variations, but also a footprint of global warming. “You can’t put a single season down to climate change, but we have seen that climate change has lifted the baseline temperatures,” he explained.
In Indiana, golf courses are still open while ski resorts remain shuttered. From the Pyrenees to the Balkans, ski resorts in the Alps have not only failed to receive natural snow, it’s been too warm to make any. “Virginia ski resorts are watching their assets melt away.” The December season has been a wash for the $1 billion New Hampshire ski resort industry. “Skiing is all right, if you consider the rain and everything,” one Massachusetts skier said of resorts’ efforts to make snow amid spring-like weather.
“Most Canadians will not wake up to a white Christmas on December 25 for the first time since Canada’s weather office began recording snowfalls in 1955,” AFP reports.
Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips told AFP “he has never seen so little snowpack in Canada’s cities.”
Because of global warming pollution from burning fossil fuels, winters are generally becoming milder, wetter, and starting later, making the promise of a white Christmas more of a dream.