Europe’s cold snap visualised

You might have noticed that Europe is currently experiencing colder than normal temperatures.  Freak snow storms in southern Italy and Tripoli point at things being quite unusual.  Scores of people have died as a result of exposure with the homeless in central and Eastern Europe being particularly badly affected.

Cold Snap – courtesy of NASA

NASA have released a image showing surface temperature anomalies across Europe at the end of January.  The image has been created from multiple MODIS images and clearly shows that most of Europe has experienced surface temperatures 5-10C lower than is normal at this time of year. Only the wester fringes of the continent have escaped the freeze.

The explanation for the cold snap is an unusually pronounced wave in the jet stream.  This normally runs roughly west to east but this year there is a significant distortion which has allowed cold air to sink south over Europe.  In the UK the south has felt the effects of this with week long cold temperatures and snow in London. However, temperatures in Scotland have been just about normal.

The full article about how this image was made and what it shows can be found on the Earth Observatory site.

If you like the composite MODIS image, then you might want to read an older blog post about last winters cold snap in the UK.


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