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WeatherBlog 6 2016/17 | Boredom and stuff.

Nothing new in the West

by Lea Hartl 12/06/2016
There has been virtually nothing new since last week, at least as far as the weather is concerned. One cloudless day follows the next. Temperatures have risen a little at higher altitudes, but in many valleys it's still very chilly under the tough inversion. There is no change in sight for the time being.

Current situation and outlook

The persistent high that has settled over western and central Europe continues to sit there. This is due to the irregular structure of the polar vortex: instead of a prominent low-pressure center over the pole, there are currently several and the jet stream meanders (isn't that a nice word?) around it in waves. We have landed in a wave mountain, while the US West Coast and parts of Eastern Europe, for example, have caught snowier wave areas. This constellation will stay with us for a while without any fundamental changes. At the beginning of next week, a small disturbance may touch the northern eastern Alps. No significant fresh snow is to be expected and the spook should be over quickly. The fact that something like this is even mentioned here clearly indicates that the unclouded sunshine is really getting boring.

For comparison, the situation last week, today and a forecast for next week. The temperature anomalies on the ground compared to the altitude are also quite interesting at the moment, you can see the inversion cold.

Climate excursion

In this very interesting article by ZAMG, three questions about winter in Austria are explained in more detail: Are winters getting warmer or colder? Will there be more or less snow? Can you predict the winter? (Answers for lazy readers: 1. warmer. 2. is complicated, warmth is generally bad for snow, but total precipitation does not necessarily decrease. 3. no.) The article also contains some graphics showing average winter temperatures in different regions of Austria, as well as in the lowlands compared to the mountain regions.

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At PG (this is certainly the case much more often at ZAMG and other weather services) we occasionally receive reader comments, questions and other messages pointing out that either a.) it's not getting warmer at all, there's never been snow at this time of year anyway and it's totally cold behind my house, do you know that?! or b.) there has never been as little snow as this year and I didn't even need gloves on my bike this morning - climate change is so blatant, do you know that?!

Do we know that?

It is still the case that we humans only feel the weather and find it very difficult to feel the climate objectively. This starts with the fact that we only ever perceive temperature relatively, not absolutely. We also notice what is happening in our immediate surroundings, but not much more. (If I live in an inversion-prone hole, I'm cold, regardless of what's happening in the rest of the country or even the world). And finally, while we have a fairly powerful personal processor, we have limited RAM and sometimes there are processor bugs that we don't understand or notice. Was everything really better in the past and was the snow waist-deep, or is it just us who have grown so that what used to reach our hips now reaches our knees? Perhaps we remember extraordinary events particularly well precisely because they were extraordinary, it wasn't always hip-deep and we've just forgotten the rest?

In any case, we need tools to objectively quantify climate change; we can't do it with memories and gut feelings. Weather stations that record the temperature and other parameters over a long period of time are an important tool. However, I still only know about my specific location and can't say much about larger areas, especially if I live in an inversion hole or in the middle of a big city.

Of course, many weather stations in many different places can help, but even then you don't really have a regular measurement network. Therefore, grid data sets are often used for averaging (global temperature, country-wide temperature, etc.). Measured data is scaled to a regular spatial grid (whereby, of course, care is taken to ensure that inversion holes and large cities are bias-corrected and not overly weighted). One such dataset for the Alps is HISTALP - which was also used to create the ZAMG graphics mentioned above.

Finally, here are a few illustrations of snow depth time series from Oberstdorf and the Zugspitze, because we have them to hand: Experience shows that how you interpret something like this also varies from person to person, but perhaps we can agree that it's difficult to judge the overall situation based on just one station (or the way to work, your own garden, etc.). Because we definitely know that.

Photo gallery

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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