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Too Much Snow For Rudolf!

December 26, 2019

By Paul Homewood


There’s always some absurd story at Xmas. This year it’s the poor reindeer!




It’s been a race against time to bring in the reindeer from their mountain summer grazing ground, but today Per-Martin Kuhmunen, a 39-year-old Sami herder is triumphant.

"We brought them in today," he grins as he and two other members of the Gabna herding district sit exhausted, bruised and battered, in a cabin on the outskirts of the village of Abisko in the far-northern corner of Swedish Lapland.

The herders, like those from other districts across Sweden, have this year been forced to bring their 6,500 reindeer in from their mountain pastures a month earlier than normal, after unusually early and heavy snowfall linked to climate change meant their animals could not find food.

"The problem comes when the ground is still warm," explains Tomas Svonni, the district’s chairman. "When you get snow on warm ground, you get ice at the bottom, and the food which the reindeer eat becomes frozen."

Inside the cabin, there’s a fug of sweat, wet clothes and boiled reindeer meat. Parked outside are the snowmobiles, day-glo lassos hanging from the handlebars, on which the men have spent four days ranging over the slopes in search of their animals.

Christer Johansson is busy sawing and screwing planks in darkness, even though it’s only the early afternoon. He is racing to finish the complex arrangement of wooden pens where the deer will be separated by owner over the coming days.

"There’s a little bit of a panic to get the reindeer down," he explains. "They can’t find any food up on the mountain, so they have to come down to the forest."

Climate change is leaving reindeer in Swedish lapland hungry.  

Climate change is leaving reindeer in Swedish lapland hungry.  Credit: Richard Orange

This Arctic corner of Sweden is seeing some of the most dramatic changes to weather patterns on earth. According to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, temperatures here were on average more than 3C higher between 1991 and 2017 than between 1961 and 1990. That is more than six times as much of a rise as the 0.5C estimated for the world as a whole. 

"The biggest thing is the temperature differences: it can be pretty warm one day and -30C the next day," Mr Svonni explains. "We haven’t seen this before. This is new for us."

Warmer air in the Arctic means there’s more energy in the system, making the weather more changeable. This can push cold Arctic air down over northern Sweden, bringing short cold spells, but also bring periods of unusual midwinter warmth. The overall trend is towards later snowcover and earlier thaws.

Last year a summer drought led to a shortage of food for the reindeer, and then in December, there was not enough snow. 

According to Tim Horstkotte, a postdoctoral researcher at the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), changing weather patterns are making the livelihood Sami herders have pursued for thousands of years even more precarious. 

"One of the things with climate change is that it gets so unpredictable," he says. "This is one of the other things that reindeer herders are quick to point out: that it becomes unstable and unreliable. It’s impossible almost to plan ahead because things can change so dramatically in a short space of time."


Apparently global warming is leading to more snow!.


In fact the temperature data for December in the region shows no sign of any long term changes, although there were some extremely cold months in that 1961 to 90 period, dreamt up by the Telegraph as some sort of norm. (Tromso is slightly to the west of Abisko, where the story is based in; Karasjok is a little north and to the east, so together they give a reasonable representation).





On the whole, there were many years in the 1930s to 1950s period, when Decembers were milder than in recent years.

Neither does there appear to be much change in the distribution of daily temperatures throughout the year, according to KNMI, suggesting that the claims that the weather is becoming more changeable are bunkum:





Indeed, the daily data for Tromso suggests daily extremes are becoming much less. (No daily data is available for Karasjok):






There has been an absence of extremely cold days. Since 2002, there has only been one day colder than minus 10C. There have however been other periods similar to this, for instance the 1930s, and the early 1970s.

Perhaps more unexpected though is the relative absence of mild days above 4C since 2008. Again we see a pattern of many cold days and few mild ones between 1960 and 1990, in stark contrast to earlier decades.



Yet another example of shoddy journalism from the Telegraph, who are happy to just regurgitate whatever nonsense they have been told, without doing even the most basic of checks!




There is an interesting footnote to this story.

According to the Guardian in July, reindeer populations have actually been thriving “because of climate change”:




It is a sad fact of life that when animal populations increase, there is more competition for limited resources.

But I think we can safely assume that Santa won’t have any trouble recruiting reindeer next Xmas!

  1. December 26, 2019 11:25 am

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  2. Sheri permalink
    December 26, 2019 12:21 pm

    This happens to cattle ranchers all the time. I’ve seen trails of snow belly deep on steers where a rancher had to drive the cattle off the mountain after underestimating when to remove the cattle. It’s just now, everyone can be whiney little twits and blame some invisible “monster”, climate change. I see regression of humans to whiney infants, not climate change.

    Oh, and as usual, “faster than elsewhere” means NOT GLOBAL and THE THEORY IS WRONG. Thank you, Guardian, for saying so.

    • bobn permalink
      December 27, 2019 1:00 am

      well said

  3. Joe Public permalink
    December 26, 2019 12:35 pm

    Your footnote is reminiscent of those claiming we’re now experiencing a climate crisis/catastrophe/calamity being unable to accept human population is increasing. (Or lacking the cojones to do an Attenborough condemnation.

  4. dearieme permalink
    December 26, 2019 3:14 pm

    The world is well provided with chocolate reindeer which will just have to do instead.

  5. Adrian, East Anglia permalink
    December 26, 2019 4:13 pm

    Boxing Day Quiz: For 5 points, name any event in the natural world during the last decade ( or two or three! ) that has NOT been attributed to climate change.

    • PaulChn permalink
      December 27, 2019 9:32 am


  6. December 26, 2019 4:17 pm

    It’s obvious they’ll have to do their bit and give up the snowmobiles. That will solve the climate crisis.

    • Sheri permalink
      December 26, 2019 5:38 pm

      I found that rather hypocritical, too. They are out on machines that produce CO2 while complaining about global warming. Cattle ranchers do the same thing (use snowmobiles), though they keep quiet about global warming. They’re already in trouble for the methane from cows. I guess as long as one does not feed reindeer, but let them eat lichens, they emit less. Or so the scientists say. Therefore, I guess reindeer herders can complain about AGW safely. Maybe get a few handouts in the process and buy more snowmobiles?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 27, 2019 11:36 am

      No they just need to use battery powered snowmobiles.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        December 27, 2019 1:30 pm

        Absolutely – and which should be charged only by solar panels and wind turbines, both of which are ideal for a Nordic climate.

        /sarc off…

  7. Luc Ozade permalink
    December 26, 2019 4:25 pm

    I don’t suppose that I am the only person who feels physically nauseated and sick on reading (and hearing and seeing on TV) almost every news item every day “linked” to climate change/crisis/emergency by ignorant and lazy journalists. I was going to call them ‘pig-ignorant’ but I fear that pigs actually have more intelligence than the majority of so-called current journalists.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      December 26, 2019 4:40 pm

      Daily TV watching is a threat to health.
      And it is a big waste of time. Give it up.
      Volunteer in a manner suitable to your interests.

    • Sheri permalink
      December 26, 2019 5:42 pm

      If it were just climate change (except that disgusting polar bear commercial from WWF), I might be able to tolerate the lies and deceptions. However, in America, it’s basically lie-fests day after day, SJW programming, etc. I watch the old shows and as long as I can reach the remote quickly to mute the commercial or change channels, I can tolerate it. If the remote is too far away, the TV gets shut off when I find the remote. I assume it will soon come to the point I do throw the brick through the TV as a political commentary. I won’t miss it.

      • bobn permalink
        December 27, 2019 1:03 am

        Sheri, we do the same here in uk. No longer watch the bbc news and routinely channel surf away from the PC porn.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 27, 2019 1:34 pm

      @ Luc Ozade, December 26, 2019 4:25 pm

      No, you are not. It’s probably a good job that we don’t (yet) have compulsory government monitored microphones & cameras in our homes. If that was the case (or if we got fined £10 for every swearword uttered) I would be locked up, bankrupt, or both…

  8. December 26, 2019 6:12 pm

    I’ve been called a masochist for listening to BBC’s Today programme, and next Monday with Greta may be too much even for me, but at that time I prefer a bit of news to Radio 3 which seems thankfully immune to climate change so it’s music for the rest of the day. It is now apparently compulsory to mention climate change on every Radio 4 programme regardless of the topic or category. Pity they won’t invite a real scientist to talk to Greta but that could never happen.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 26, 2019 8:13 pm

      Brenda, I think you better steer clear of Farming Today then. It’s far worse than Today when it comes to CC.

    • dennisambler permalink
      December 27, 2019 11:15 am

      Greta is to be a “guest editor”.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        December 27, 2019 11:39 am

        I did see something where St Greta was seen to be in trouble when not reading her script which suggests she knows nothing about the subject. And yet she claims to have read the treaties and the agreements, although to be fair they contain no accurate science anyway.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 27, 2019 1:37 pm

      “It is now apparently compulsory to mention climate change on every Radio 4 programme regardless of the topic or category”

      I don’t listen to BBC Radio, but that’s certainly the case with BBC TV, particularly the news…

  9. Nigel Sherratt permalink
    December 26, 2019 7:28 pm

    Altogether elsewhere, vast
    Herds of reindeer move across
    Miles and miles of golden moss,
    Silently and very fast.

    The Fall of Rome: W. H. Auden

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 26, 2019 8:08 pm

    O/T – but you have to see what AEP has been saying over at the DT. A mandated carbon tax, for goodness sake!

  11. Washington 76 permalink
    December 26, 2019 11:08 pm

    This dovetails well.

    Nov 26, 2019 Eighteen Inches Of Global Warming

    Toto goes on strike, protesting too much global warming.

  12. December 27, 2019 12:50 am

    What journalistic training supports the idea of writing to a POV unsubstantiated by facts which are easy to find? Is there a “wink-wink” culture in the newsroom, abetted by a fully corrupt editorial staff?

  13. bobn permalink
    December 27, 2019 1:08 am

    Our sun super novas and explodes and destroys our solar system in 4.5 billion yrs time, so whats the problem with a little global warming? Enjoy while we can – the sun is the big momma, we can do diddly shit!

  14. dennisambler permalink
    December 27, 2019 9:23 am

    The climate models are getting warmer…

    “From what I understand, the new CMIP6 models are exhibiting even more warming than the CMIP5 models, so it sounds like when we have sufficient model comparisons to produce CMIP6 plots, the discrepancies seen below will be increasing.”

    Stand by for much more hysteria this year as we head for Glasgow COP 26.

    • dennisambler permalink
      December 27, 2019 10:38 am

      Meant next year but nearly there!

  15. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 27, 2019 11:30 am

    Everybody always remembers even the recent past as being “normal”, with no variation at all. Cgmhildhood summers were always warm and sunny, Christmasses white etc etc.

    Unless you have a reference – I was a keen cricketer from 12 to 18 so remember years when we barely played a match because of rain – it’s all just a jumble laced with what you think it should have been like.

    This is why we came up with the scientific method, so that we can know whether peoples claims are accurate or not.

  16. Gerry, England permalink
    December 27, 2019 11:45 am

    The appearance of Rossby Waves on the jetstream due to solar minimum is causing quite rapid changes in temperature that must be difficult for them to deal with. But don’t expect to see any articles about that in the mainstream as it would be an admission that the sun has an effect on our climate.

    • dave permalink
      December 28, 2019 10:41 am

      A wavy jet-stream inevitably means more weather extremes to record in mid-latitudes.* Piers Corbyn has the unusual belief that Solar Cycles of odd number (such as Cycle 25, now starting) have more of an effect than even ones. In other words that only half of the 22-year Hale double-cycle in sunspots is fully linked to the Earth.

      We shall see.

      *Thus, at present, Alaska is being hit with extreme polar-cold while Eastern USA is unusually warm.

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