Saturday, December 09, 2006

Green Christmas in Norway

No this does not mean Christmas tree lights are to be powered by windmills. It means Oslo is unlikely to have a white Christmas, so the experts predict. This time last year we were struggling to cope with nearly a foot (30cm) of snow. This year we are zipping and unzipping jackets to compensate for the sub-tropical temperature Oslo is enjoying at the moment. Well 8C is pretty warm for this time of the year in this neck of the woods.

An eminent Norwegian meteorologist is predicting the end of the white winter in Norway. The snow line is rapidly retreating northwards resulting in severe depression in the skiing community. Even though Oslo is frequently snow free the city is surrounded by much higher ground which until recently would have been covered in snow from the middle of October till May. Good skiing was within a 20 minute train ride or drive. But not at the moment, Norway is virtually snow free from Finmark in the north to Oslo in south.

The only place with snow at the moment is Hemsedal in the mountains between Oslo and Bergen. It's protected from the warm winds sweeping over the rest of the country. This weekend, it will host a European Cup skiing competition that had to be moved from St Moritz because of a lack of snow in the Alps. Although they are having to use snow guns on some of the lower cross country tracks.

One of the interesting results of higher temperatures is an increased rainfall. The Akerselver river that runs close to Torshove and through the centre of Oslo is swollen by all the extra rain. I was taking photographs to day at Sagen where there is a series of waterfalls and weirs. I have never seen so much water in the river, it is quite spectacular. Some of the riverside businesses are less than comfortable and are busy erecting sandbag barriers and other defences to fend off the effects of any further rise in water levels.

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