Return to Chapter 2_12

The extraordinary cold January 1940

needs to be explained.

Extract from the book: “Climate Change & Naval War”, p. 25


According an analysis by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ, 14 January 1940) the development of cold conditions happened as follows: Severe cold which flooded the whole of Europe in the course of this week was by no means an accidental phenomenon that set in surprisingly. It rather constitutes the peak of a development which had its beginning in the first week of December. Towards its end high pressure began to stabilize in North and Middle Europe, keeping away the low Atlantic cyclones from the continent and diverting them mainly through Greenland and Iceland waters to the Sea….As soon as occasional Atlantic depressions moved East through the North and Baltic Sea, they were immediately replaced by entry of cold air from the Greenland area.”

 Little convincing is the assumption made shortly after WWII, that the “shift” to the severe winter conditions of 1939/40 was caused by a sudden build-up of a cyclone off the Lofoten on 20th December 1939 (Rodewald, 1948).

COMMENT: The usually moderate winter conditions in Northern Europe depend on the high heat supply from the Gulf Current (Norwegian Current), and the North and Baltic Sea. In January 1940 the heat supply was obviously to low to prevent a months with temperatures up to 10° C below the average, a clear indication of the role naval activities had on the marine environment during the previous four months.

Chapter: 2_12

Book Page: 25

File: 210_Scherhag_Jan40

Image: 2010/

Return to Chapter 2_12