In recent days Italian and Polish forecasters have released reports suggesting that this winter could be the coldest Europe has seen in the last 1,000 years. The change is reportedly connected with the speed of the Gulf Stream which has allegedly slowed down in connection with the oil spill off the coast of Florida. Some scientists claim the stream will not be able to compensate the cold from Arctic winds –and according to their theory as the Gulf Stream wanes and eventually disappears Europe will have to brace for Arctic winters. Czech meteorologist Jan Pretel says this is utter nonsense:
“I am quite convinced that such forecasts do not have any scientific background. The Gulf Stream is only a small part of the world’s Thermohaline Circulation and if we look at the Atlantic Ocean we see that the Gulf Stream is relatively speaking a very small “river” in the ocean because the width of the Gulf Stream is on average 100 kilometers while the width of the ocean is between seven and four thousand kilometers in places. The winter weather in Europe is influenced in equal measure by the release of heat which the ocean has absorbed during the summer and by the wind flow over the Atlantic Ocean and as the Gulf Stream is only a small part of the huge Atlantic Ocean I am completely convinced that winter in Europe cannot be affected only –or to such an extent - by the Gulf Stream.”
So you are ruling out an exceptionally cold winter at this point –of the kind forecast?
“I’d say the chances of a very cold winter are fifty percent and those of a very mild one are also fifty percent. I am convinced that at this time – the beginning of October – it is impossible to give a serious, scientifically based forecast for the winter. Because meteorologists can give you a very good forecast for three days, a good forecast for five days, and a reasonable forecast for two weeks but we do not have the instruments to give you a reliable forecast for the winter.”
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