The World’s News, Sydney, NSW Saturday 4 March 1950
Crooner Bing Crosby produced a smash hit when he sang “White Christmas” some years ago. But this Yuletide in Europe was more like a Green Christmas.
ACCORDING to European scientists and meteorologists there is no definite indication of a radical change in Europe’s climate, but they believe that the whole continent may be on the brink of an era that will bring sub-tropical conditions.
This would be nothing new since it is known that the icy wind-swept Tundras in the north of the Continent were once parched by the sun.
The last Ice Age ended with glaciers reaching as far down as the Rhone Valley and Lake Geneva. It is noticeable that some of the glaciers are being pushed back in the Alps.
The earth has experienced many of these cold periods which stretched as far as India and South America.
The exact causes have never been clearly defined and a number of reasons such as increased sun spots activity, extra moisture in the air preventing a clear atmosphere, or even a changed rotation speed have been advanced.
The Arctic explorer and specialist on glaciers, Professor Ahlmann, of Stockholm University, has declared that there is at present a remarkably quick melting of the ice layers in Lappland. According to his calculations the dissolution into water is going ahead more rapidly than the formation of fresh ice tiers.
Geologists watching the glaciers in the Alps have reported a similar tendency, although last year the additional snowfall arrested the process temporarily.
Some of the lower ice prongs which feed European rivers splashing into Italy, France and Switzerland had lost their shimmering blue hue. Two years of unsubstantial snow fall had not passed without making a difference and made meteorologists shake their heads in bewilderment.
An example of the rising temperature is that of Spitzbergen, only 800 miles from the North Pole. In 30 years the average winter level of the thermometer has gone up by nine degrees Celsius.
The ice-packs which once used to ring the north coast of Iceland for several months of the year allowing no passage, now only span the same area for 60 days. The almost impenetrable barrier in the Polar Sea has been replaced by ineffective floes lashing through the waves.
But Professor Ahlmann has gone even further in his investigations. Large tracts of territory in Iceland still crusted 600 years ago, have now been cleared and freed for agricultural purposes.
“So much ice has vanished on Greenland,” the Swedish scientist explained after a careful survey, “that the entire character of this northern country has changed.”
Turning to Alaska, Professor Ahlmann estimates that the glaciers are retreating at the rate of 900 feet a year. Some of them have presented a unique sight for decades, their sheer drop into the water from high altitudes displaying a rare spectacle.
The theory that the atomic explosions have affected the weather conditions has been rejected by various European investigators. There is, however, little doubt that the Gulf Stream is carrying more warm water towards the British Isles.
The assumption that the Gulf Stream has changed its traditional course has been discarded.
Moreover it is notable that the cod has moved 500 miles to the north in the past year. Other fish such as herring, halibut and shellfish have also been found nearer to the Pole than hitherto. This has also caused a move in certain maritime birds.
The countless questions which are being asked up and down the Continent regarding the gradual change in the temperature have had a cautious answer by another Swedish meteorologist, Professor Rossby. He believes that the sun’s effectiveness on the European climate has altered.
“It is possible,” he declared, “that more ultra-violet light is being produced in the higher atmospherically regions.” This still leaves much to be explained, but it does give an indication of things to come.
Meanwhile the people in Europe have again wondered at the lack of snow in the valleys. And it certainly was not a white Christmas for those who can remember the heavy snow falls last century.
As an added (though unrelated) fact it is interesting to know that Bing Crosby’s White Christmas record is now beyond the 6,000,000 sales mark-an all-time record.
Scientists believe that the melting of ice in the polar regions indicates a radical change in climatic conditions.