Ocean Science Meeting
American Geographical Union

22-26 February 2010, Oregon Convention Center, Portland/Oregon

Is the climatic shift since winter 1939/40
 a sea related matter?

Poster Control ID: 744077

ABSTRACT: The role of the North and Baltic Sea is analyzed in regard to the sudden climatic shift 70 years ago that concurred in time and location with the commencement of World War II, with three extreme cold winters in Europe, 1939/40 to 1941/42. Simultaneously the shift marked also the start of a three decade long global cooling.

The examination of air temperature data series (Nasa/Giss) and other meteorological developments reveal that there is a direct or indirect correlation to the naval war activities in the North and Baltic Sea. This applies until the winter 1941/1942 from whereon the naval war went global for another four years. As global temperatures had been getting milder since about 1850 particular attention is given to the winter 1939/40, as it was the coldest in central Northern Europe for more than 100 years. The most affected locations lay close to those sea areas with the highest naval activities, e.g. the North Sea section from The Netherlands to Denmark, and in the Southern and Central Baltic Sea. The temperature profile for Europe in winter 1939/40 points to a noticeable contribution by human activities in the form of naval warfare.

Similar observations can be made for the two subsequent war winters. After the invasion of Norway in 1940 the Skagerrak region experienced a record cold winter. The next most severe winter conditions in 1941/42 can be attributed to the realm of the Eastern Baltic Sea where naval force had been active since Germany had attacked Russia in June 1941. A significant fact of the three extreme winters is their appearance in succession, which is rare in the region, as a Swedish scientist noted already in 1942. Such three cold winter have never been observed before or after WWII. 

The sudden increase of human activities in the marine environment could have worked like a huge field experiment, and any confirmation of the naval war thesis, or evident exclusion would enhance ocean science on climatic matters. Furthermore, a more in depth knowledge about the first three war winter is a paramount precondition for a thorough discussion of the global cooling period from 1940 to the 1970s, which is still a not fully understood aspect in the climate change debate. Full Poster

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