Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year's weather

Students who were in HIST 2055, Ancient Civilizations, last year will remember that we took a "big history" perspective, using David Christian's Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History and Ronald Wright's A Short History of Progress as the basis for a major assignment.

Right now the "historical perspective part of my brain is having a hard time thinking about anything (Iraq and the American Constitution apart) besides the "above normal" temperatures we are having in almost every part of Canada as a result of El Nino. (See the Globe and Mail for a summary; the G&M also provided the map above.)

Above normal here in the North Bay area means that we've got about the same temperatures and the same snow cover (i.e. tiny scraps in sheltered north-facing areas) as we usually have in late April. Last night the low temp was significantly above freezing (normal low: -16C).

Scientists say this weather is not a direct result of climate change, but whatever the cause, it's pretty freakish.

And to think, just last year, when we got hammered with record snow, I was urging the university to make the most of our winter weather as it has become milder and less snowy in areas just a little further south. Right now you can't even walk on the lakes.

Among my favorite web visiting places are the sites devoted to the snow and ice festivals in frigid Harbin, Manchuria, China, where they make gorgeous sculptures from snow and huge palaces of ice cut out of the frozen river. After the first draft of this post it occurred to me that this annual event might be in danger. It is one of the nice things about the web that I didn't have to wonder in complete ignorance -- I just looked for Harbin weather sites, and found that it's plenty cold there right now, more like North Bay normals than what we've actually had. I'll be looking to see the situation in February.

Those of you who have been away -- have a look at the English Russia site I've put on my sidebar for long-term ready reference.


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