Sweden's temperature increasing more than the global average

TT/The Local
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Sweden's temperature increasing more than the global average
2018 saw record highs in Sweden, including this reading in Malmö on August 8th. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

NASA scientists announced this week that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, continuing a trend in which the past five years were the hottest collective five-year period in history and 18 of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.


In Sweden, temperatures are rising even faster than the average. Since 1860, the temperature in Sweden has increased by 1.5C, while the global average increase is roughly 1 degree. 
"We clearly see a trend that it is getting warmer in Sweden, and this is most noticeable during the winter," Gustav Strandberg, a climate scientist at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), said. 
The reason that Sweden’s temperature increase is outpacing the rest of the Earth is its proximity to the Arctic. As the Arctic ice retreats, Sweden gets warmer. 
"The ice is cold and lies like a cover over the sea’s surface. Just a bit of warming can cause the ice to melt, which in turn leads to the water heating up the air further," Strandberg said. 
One result of the rising temperatures in Sweden will be "fewer white winters in the future," Strandberg said. For years, SMHI has been warning that popular ski resorts in Sweden could be without any thick snow by the end of the century. Already this year, the southern parts of the country face the possibility of missing winter altogether
But as last summer’s heatwave, drought and wildfires showed, the effects of a warmer Sweden will not only be felt during the winter. A governmental climate study from 2017 warned that summer temperatures in northern Sweden could increase by as much as 7C by 2080. Meanwhile, the likelihood of additional record-breaking summers increases along with the average temperature. 
"No one really knows what will happen. But the likelihood of extreme weather with drought and forest fires is increasing," Jonas Allerup, a climate analyst at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, said. 
Rising temperatures will also lead to sea ice in the Arctic melting faster. According to a report in the journal Nature, this, in turn, will slow ocean currents that according to the researchers' simulations could mean increasingly extreme climate situations around the globe. 
"Here in Sweden, this could lead to the warming slowing down, but not so much that the temperature rise will stop," Strandberg said. 
Allerup said that we have not yet reached the point of no return and that it is not too late to reach the climate goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, which calls for keeping the increase in global temperatures below 2C. But to do so, he stressed, emissions must decrease drastically over the next ten to 12 years.
"If we are to stick to a maximum increase of 1.5C then the Paris Agreement alone is not enough. We need to go one step further, but right now things look dark," he said.


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