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Warmer north pole could give Norway better weather – Aftenposten

17 April 2012

Varmere nordpol kan gi bedre vær – Aftenposten.

Where the cold polar air meets the warmer air from open seas, the struggling air masses (as the earth circulation systems try to re-distribute the heat) cause weather systems to form. According to this article from Aftenposten, there are usually winds up to hurricane strength in the winter caused by the approximately 12 low pressure systems that form, and it is reckoned that up to half of all the bad weather along the Norwegian coast is caused by these lows.  Most fishing boats do not manage to find shelter and many get damaged or wrecked.

One of the big projects of the International Polar Year was to learn more about the polar low system. This involved flying through the cyclones and gathering data.  Øyvind Sætra of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute told Aftenposten that the system is becoming rarer and might disappear in the future. Without ice cover  and freezing cold air there will not be the temperature gradient there was before which feeds the storm formation.

  • Polar low pressure will be rarer along the Norwegian coast and instead will appear further north
  • Svalbard will have more polar cyclones and the oil industry seeking to expand north and east into the Barents Sea will have to contend with the risk of hurricane strength winds with from the north with no warning

Erik Kolstad of  StormGeo who was one of the researchers said they were surprised that the weather might improve. Polar lows develop quickly and then blow themselves out. He thinks the polar low was the cause of the loss of the trawler Gaul with 36 lives in 1974. Over 100 lives were lost when hurricane strength winds hit Lofoten on 25th January 1893, an event that inspired Johan Bojer’s book the Last of the Vikings.


UPDATE: I have just borrowed a lovely – once only borrowed (1976) copy from the UCL (Scandinavian) Library store, in Norwegian of course, so I am looking forward to that!

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