Tuesday, 15 February 2011


I've been away from the sub-arctic for two weeks. I live in Kiruna, Lappland, Sweden, but since the middle of December, I have subsequently been to Spain (holiday), Amsterdam (family visit) and Grenoble (research course). Two months without snow (except the first couple of days, which happened to be the snow-chaos days in western Europe). Now, I have returned.

One week ago, I was in the Provence in France, sitting in shorts with my feet in a lake, and in the evenings, observing a very spectacular night sky (I was staying at the observatory Observatoire de Haute Provence). Yesterday morning, I arrived by the long train ride from Grenoble via Amsterdam back to Kiruna. Fortunately, Swedish trains run fine in -35°C and fortunately, the heating on Swedish trains does, too.

Since then, I have been greeted by arctic phenomenon upon arctic phenomenon.

Yesterday evening, a spectacular auroral display. Rapid fluctuating green and red flashes traveling from horizon to zenith and on to the other horizon within seconds; whenever looking in one direction, I was sure to miss even more spectacular displays in the other direction. Then it suddenly stopped and I could guiltlessly go to bed.

This morning. -42°C. Sundogs with the sun shining through the clouds caused by the town heating facility. Very local; I go down and it's gone.

Then an artificial, man-made one. When it's cold, make some clouds! Twice this morning, once at -39°C and once at -37°C, we made clouds. Get some hot water and pour it down! Video at http://vimeo.com/19964844

And it's cold. Cold. The communication link to the weather station in the swamp 2 km north of my work broke down, but our kitchen thermometer currently indicates -38.7°C. In such temperatures, I rather park my bicycle indoors. Rohloff oil doesn't like those temperatures. Tires don't roll too well. And, worst of all (?), the display of my speedometer completely stops. Well, I know I'm going slowly!

I work outside of town. In town, it's warmer. Considerably so. Currently -29.9°C, but in the afternoon it was -8°C (at work: -25°C; long live the return of the sun at 68.5°N! Spring is coming?!).

I put some pictures at

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