Photo: Artificial snow for cross country skiing in Falun’s ski stadion.
Two and a half years ago I moved to Southern England from Sweden. One thing I have really missed since relocating are the Scandinavian winters, especially being able to do sports like cross country skiing.
For this reason, my husband and I decided to go cross country skiing in Sweden over the February holidays this year. We chose to go to Falun in central Sweden. The town has a long tradition of cross country skiing, being the location of Sweden’s National Cross Country Skiing and Ski Jumping Centre as well as having hosted four Nordic Skiing World Championships in the past.
As a child, I often saw Falun’s surroundings on TV when watching international cross country skiing competitions, its forests covered by thick snow. Until recently the town was indeed a place with guaranteed snow for skiing during the winter months, but not anymore. Climate change does not care about long winter sport traditions.
When we arrived during the second half of February, temperatures were constantly above 0 degrees Celsius, peaking at 8 degrees Celsius. No need to say that there was no real snow for skiing. With many trees starting to sprout due to the high temperatures it felt more like spring than Scandinavian winter.
We were lucky that there was at least some artificial snow prepared for cross country skiing in the ski stadion. In the image above you can see me in the ski stadion in front of the ski jumping hills. The lack of snow in the image is quite obvious.
When looking at the snow depth map provided by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) for the last seven days it can be seen that half of the country does not have any snow. The Southern half of Sweden as marked as ”bare ground”.
According to the Japan Times temperatures had climbed to 5 degrees above normal in Southern Sweden and 10 degrees above normal in Northern Sweden during January. The article tells us that the situation is the same in Norway, Finland and North West Russia. What I personally found most disturbing was the account of a Norwegian town that had reported 19 degrees Celsius this January.
Climate change is here to stay. Winters in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries will continue to get warmer and shorter. In many regions winters will disappear completely.