Ch. C Part II (p.54-62)

C_Part IIChapter C: Three-year winter package – Part II

NOTE: All book images have been replaced – Published by: iuniverse/USA
Autor: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

C_Part II_ klSuccessive cold winters, an exceptional case

Three extremely cold winters in a row are another striking evidence that naval war generated ice age conditions in Northern Europe. A demonstration could already be made on the basis of the statistics of the three winter temperatures in De Bilt, Oslo and Stockholm. Evidence is based not only on the sudden and extreme cold wave, which hit the Northern Europe and the maritime locations, but also on the fact that such a situation had never been observed before.

Fortunately, the ‘three-year package’ theory doesn’t rely only on temperatures in order to prove that war at sea was the cause of the cooling phenomenon, but can rely on a number of additional aspects. For example, snow covered the British Isles, sea ice covered the Baltic Sea and the regions, which had the most significant naval activities, had to deal with record cold temperatures during the next winter.

Mentioned issues offer us a rich investigation field and will be discussed and explained with the help of materials published during WWII or shortly after. That includes early observation and references to the extremely low temperature conditions.

Low Temperatures

Sweden:  As already indicated above, G. Liljequist observed: Three successive ice winters are very rare[i]. After almost 200 years of weather observation in Stockholm, there are only two periods that come close to the most recent one in 1939-42. But none of the previous ‘three-winter periods’ (we take into account the average temperature of three coldest months) had been as cold as the winters of 1939-42, which were 0.6°C colder than the winter-group 1802-1805.

 B_2  B_4  B_5

Kew Observatory/UK; Even during the „Cold Epoch“ (ca. 1810–1850), when 9 winters out of 42 were colder at Kew Observatory/UK than the 1939/40 “winter package”, none of these winters was so closely followed by subsequent cold winters as during the winters of 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42[ii], which were furthermore commented upon: “The present century has been marked by such a widespread tendency towards mild winters that the ‘old-fashioned winters’, of which one had heard so much, seemed to have gone for ever. The sudden arrival, at the end of 1939, of what was to be the beginning of a series of cold winters was therefore all the more surprising. Since the winters of 1878/79, 1879/80 and 1880/81, there have never been three winters in a row as severe as those of 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42.”

Maritime and continental difference:  Before moving to the next issue, temperature differences between maritime and inland locations, as B_3mentioned in a previous chapter, should be included in a comprehensive ‘three-year package’ list. While record cold winter results were achieved throughout Northern Europe, the difference between sea and land is remarkable. Land values for January and December were only slightly below the previous record (Paris 1,2°C, Basel 0,1°C, and Wiesbaden managed only second place), while close-to-sea locations (De Bilt, Oslo and Stockholm) broke the previous cold records with extraordinary temperature differences from 1,6 to 2,7°C. This is strong evidence that the North and Baltic Seas played a major role in generating the three arctic winters. While warm Atlantic water arrives in Europe as usually, colder North Sea water is recorded by the British weather reports.

Snow in Great Britain;  There are two necessary conditions in order to have a snowy winter: an abundant supply of aerial humidity combined with cold air. During the war, Britain’s fleets were like a battleship in a bath tub, surrounded by warm water and bathing water steaming off. Cold continental air could quickly turn moist air into fog, rain, ice-rain or snow.

Extreme conditions came quickly. From the 27th of January until the 3rd of February 1940, England did not only face a tremendous snow problem but also experienced the most significant, long-lasting rain-ice event, presumably the severest ever known. The most affected regions were from Wales, via south-westerly parts of Midlands, to the south-western and central-southern regions. Meanwhile, violent stormy weather brought massive snow in the south-east of England, including snowdrifts reaching 15 feet height and even more[iii]. Was it a surprise? Not really! Over the Atlantic, warm air clashed with cold air, which was actually colder than usually because of the naval warfare in the North and Baltic Seas.

 B_6  B_7  B_8

Kew Observatory;  Snow in Britain is a rare phenomenon. In the south-east of England, snow can be expected only every 10 days. Any deviation should raise questions and suspicion. During the winter of 1939-1942, the monthly snow rate was 400% higher. Here is Drummond’s table showing the percentage of the days with snowfall:





Dec.- Feb.

1939 –40





1940 – 41





1941 –42





Average(1871– 1938)





A.J. Drummond.; „Cold winters at Kew Observatory, 1783-1942“; Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., 1943, pp 17ff and pp.147ff.

 The Isles;  Lewis[iv] made the following two statements concerning the snow-cover of the British Isles during the months of January and February of the severe winters of 1940, 1941 and 1942. “The three consecutive winters of 1940, 1941 and 1942 were, however, unusually severe; the snow was considerable and the number of days of snow-laying comparatively large”. “Three such severe winters in succession as 1940, 1941 and 1942 appear to be without precedent in the British Isles for at least 60 years, a similar succession occurring from 1879 until 1881.”

 B_9  B_10  B_11

WWI and WWII .

In 1942, at Kew Observatory, A.J. Drummond realised an exceptional situation: “Since comparable records began in 1871, the only other three successive winters as snowy as the recent ones were those during the last war, namely 1915/16, 1916/17 and 1917/18, when snow fell on 23%, 48% and respectively 23% of the days”. The naval warfare caused more humidity in the air and facilitated the inflow of cold continental air over The Isles, thus generating rain, ice-rain and snow in quantities, which are above all statistical values. The intensive naval activities that took place in the English Channel and in the southern area of the North Sea lead inevitably to abundant snowfalls in the South-East of England.

Change of wind direction

 Norway, Hesselberg & Birkeland point out significant climate deviations during the first three war years, as illustrated in the following table. Therefore, we should pay particular attention to the winter and spring seasons:





Atmospheric pressure

+6 mb

+3 mbar

+0,5 mbar

+0,5 mbar

Air temp.






– 12%

– 8%



Wind from north





Wind from east





Wind from south





Wind from west





Hesselberg, TH., and Birkeland, B.J.; ‘The continuation of the secular variations of the climate of Norway 1940-50’, in: Geofysike publikasjoner Vol. XV. No.5, Bergen 1944-56; pp. 3-40.

Means deviations during the period 1940-42 from the mean values of the period 1901-30

 B_13  B_15  B_16


Three ice winters in the Baltic Sea

 Sea icing on the German coast

An accurate indicator of the severity of a winter in the Baltic Sea and in its bordering countries is the annual icing phenomenon. Taking into account the extent of the icing phenomenon during the three war winters of 1939-42, it is possible to provide ample proof that this extraordinary situation could only have been generated by intensive military activities in these waters, over the time period in question. The main aspects can be summarised as it follows:

The first and the most significant argument: the suddenness and the severity of each of these ice winters for which we could find no other cause but the war at sea.  It is possible to establish a direct connection between the extent of the activities in the Baltic Sea and the degree of the icing phenomenon and of the arctic winter conditions:

1939/40: intensive military activities, the battle at Gdansk, the mining of the western Baltic Sea and of the Gulf of Finland, Finnish-Russian war at sea – all these resulted in very heavy ice.
1940/41: there were only general naval activities, so the icing was less serious than that of the previous year. Yet, it was a severe ice winter.
1941/42: the Germans invaded Russia and fought with the Russian Baltic Fleet in the Central and the Northern Baltic Sea for five months (June-December 1941). This event had as consequence the most extended and heaviest icing ever.

Another significant proof is the fact that such a severe icing has never been seen before. It should be mentioned that, over the observation period, the general average temperatures in Sweden and in the Northern Hemisphere rose roughly with one degree, while the winter temperatures in Stockholm had risen with about 2°C since 1761. This comparison of the extreme winter conditions of the late 18th century-the early 19th century to the similar events from the mid-20th century will underline the extremely severe character of the latter.

 B_18  B_19  B_20

The icing of the Northern Baltic Sea

Another important argument which supports our thesis that nothing but the war at sea had turned the Baltic Sea into an ice age sea is the extent of the ice cover during the three years in question. According to a graph made by the Finnish Institute[v] and showing the ice cover in the Baltic Sea, 57° North latitude (ca. Visby – Riga latitude), there has never been one group of three successive years with such an important extent of ice cover as the ice phenomenon of the war years of 1939-1942 since 1720 (when such observations were recorded).

As the graph provided by the Finnish Institute actually shows figures only after 1720, the ice cover during the winters of 1939-42 could have been the most extensive in many hundred years. During the 200-year period, only 15 winters reached the highest ice volume possible, including those of 1939/40 and 1941/42. One of the reasons which would explain the rarity of this phenomenon is the fact that, from the moment the Baltic Sea reaches a high ice cover, the water body no longer transfers heat to the atmosphere, the deeper waters retaining more heat for the following winter season. But because of the intensive ‘stirring and mixing’ of the sea caused by military activities, a record ice coverage had been achieved in the Baltic Sea during the three war years of 1939-42. This was an inevitable phenomenon. There is virtually no other explanation available. Can any thesis offer a better explanation why not one year since 1883 experienced excessive ice condition, which only showed up again during war winters 1939/40 to 1941/42 after a pause of half a century?

 B_21  B_22

Centers of record winters

It is interesting to observe that certain regions reported record climatic events, on one hand, and that there have been intensive military activities, on the other hand.

 1939/40: Germany reported a record cold winter. In fact, heavy mining operations, battles (e.g. Gdansk), military surveillance, transport and exercises took place in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea during the pre-winter months.
1940/41: Norway claimed to have recorded low temperatures never measured before in a number of stations in its southern regions, in the summer, immediately after the Germans had invaded Norway. Mine warfare and battles continued along its coast and heavy ship movements took place between Germany and Norway thereafter.
1941/42: Middle Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands claimed the coldest winter in more than 130 years; after the German invasion of Russia, the so-called ‘Barbarossa’ meant heavy fighting in the Baltic countries from June until December. All mentioned locations claimed the winter of 1941/42 as the coldest, giving the first war winter of 1939/40 ‘only’ a second place during a time period of 100 years or more.

 The centre of the cold was ‘in the middle of the Baltic and the North Seas’, somewhere between Hamburg and Skagen/Denmark.

 B_23  B_24


There is no change without a cause. The three arctic war winters of 1939-1942 are no exception to the rule. At a global level, people, air and sea are bound to law of physics. The mechanism is simple. Any stirred hot soup lets steam off and cools down. Any warm lake, sea or ocean that is churned and stirred during winter season lets off steam and cools down quickly.

The result is obvious. The three war winters of 1939-1942 were by far the coldest ever recorded during the last two centuries, and may be the coldest series even since the last ice age. One can only wonder why science pays no interest to this matter and remains silent on the issue of the WWII winter. Only four months after WWII commenced, North Europe’s winter went back to icy conditions previously experienced more than 100 years ago, during the ‘Cold Epoch’. Two extreme winters followed during the naval warfare that was fought in North European waters and in other waters adjacent to them. Nothing is completely explained yet. Conducting a war has devastating consequences, but not such chaotic ones. Three cold winters were the logical consequence of war at sea in sensitive waters. Ending a series of three arctic winters (1939-1942) was only “natural” after Japan had dragged the United States into the war, on the 7th of December 1941, and naval warfare went global on an unprecedented scale. A temporary regional cooling impact became a worldwide phenomenon for four decades.

Before turning attention to four decades global cooling from 1940 to 1980, we will discuss that already World War One (WWI) did already an intensive modification of Northern Hemisphere climate from 1918 to winter 1939/40.

Continue Chapter D – Part I (page 63 – 75)