12/20/2015

Global warming: real or just a myth?

Yesterday, 19 December, the low fog/mist over Geneva caused chaos at the airport. Other places report highly abnormal weather!


It often happens in November or December that a powerful high pressure zone to the south of Geneva pushes weather fronts far to the north, leaving the ideal (!) conditions for a temperature inversion. In Geneva we sit in a cold blanket of fog/mist, whilst the mountains not far above bask in a mini heat wave. Currently the temperature at an altitude of 2000m is above zero, so that only in very high altitudes is there any real snow. Witness the scenes of ski competitions on a pathway of snow, surrounded by green pastures!

In England, for probably the first time recorded, there are early daffodils in bloom, something that a senior horticulturist says he has never seen in all his 42 years working at Kew Gardens. Many creatures which normally hibernate are still out looking for food. Apparently, even some birds which normally migrate south have decided to stick around.

On the other side of the world, for the first time ever, Australian city Adelaide has now had 4 consecutive days with a heat wave of temperatures above 40°C. What might the temperatures be for the Australian Open tennis in January?

On the darker side, the Chinese city of Beijing has again had to take strict measures against a smog pollution level due to a return of the same smog as during the COP21 conference. The quantity of PM2.5 micro particles, said to be the smallest and deadliest smog particles, is many times above the limit which the World Health Organisation considers to be a health risk.

Coming back to the local situation, the low level poor visibility caused Skyguide yesterday to double the minimum separation between aircraft, and hence to halve the maximum capacity. The resulting problems, with aircraft frequently missing their slot times, worsened as the day went on. The final count was about 50 scheduled flights being cancelled, plus many others with long delays. As (bad) luck would have it, the Saturday before Christmas always sees an onslaught of skiers, mainly from the UK. Quite a few of these would have seen their flight cancelled: doubtless some would probably have had to sleep in airport terminals, hoping to leave the next morning. Even those that did arrive, perhaps with hours of delay, may have got to their destination late at night, then awoke to glorious sunshine but poor snow conditions.

In the long term, the possible decrease in the amount of snow falling, and perhaps a shorter ski season, could have a delayed effect on the popularity of ski-related holidays. This year the hotels have declared that they are full for the Christmas period, but bookings for the first few weeks may be hit without a proper snowfall. f so, then the airlines transporting the skiers may find themselves in a quandary, with the offer (all the flights already scheduled during the ski season) perhaps exceeding the demand. Worse, without good ski conditions through the season, many people might opt for somewhere else next year!

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