The climate shift is there!

Now it happened!

According to the Emmerich Institute of Exoclimatical Research a new ice age is near. Already this year the snow in Northern Scandinavia will not melt anymore and glaciers will arise along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Authorities recommend to build a snow wall as a defence work round all buildings to protect them against the approaching glaciers. Today I started with the snow wall round my house in Skelleftehamn and I’m hoping for the best.

Wish me luck!

Snowmobile tracks

When the sea ice is safe + the weather is calm and sunny + it’s Easter holidays you can bet that many, many people are outside. A zillion times more than in January or February when the locals think it’s too cold.

Some people walk, some even ski but most people use their snowmobiles. And that’s how the snow covered ice on the Baltic Sea looks like: covered with snowmobile tracks. Sometimes only one or two of them, but often it’s many tracks making the ice look like a German autobahn.

What a contrast compared to my hike less than two weeks ago where I was almost alone on the ice.


Ongoing winter

It has been a long winter and it’s continuing. The fence behind my backyard is still mostly snowed under and this night it has started snowing again.

The temperatures however have been gradually rising. While the minimum temperatures have been mostly between -5 °C and -15 °C the last weeks the minimum of the last night was a mere -1.2 °C. And the permanent frost stopped. Day temperatures have been above zero the last ten days and despite the mean temperatures still being below zero the snow has started to melt, especially on and beside the streets.

And if the Swedish weather forecast is right we’re expecting a sunny week with temperatures up to 7 °C. This will cause more snow to melt making the streets especially in town extremely ugly and rubber boots the preferred footwear, but that’s a necessity for the spring to come.

The other years?

April 2017 – the Baltic Sea is mostly open, some snow showers. The first tussilago flowers on 8 April.
April 2016 – open Baltic Sea, some rain and small streams cause local flooding.
April 2015 – kayak tour on the Baltic Sea, whooper swans and again the first tussilago.

Roof avalanches

Rumble! Roar!! Crash!!!

It’s three a clock in the night. A tremendous noise that shook the house had just waked me up. An earthquake?

No, it was a roof avalanche. It’s the time of the year when temperatures rise and vary between frost and thaw. This causes the snow to partly slide down the roof until all of a sudden large parts of the snow cover can fall down with an enormous crash. And since the snow layer had been frozen over the night this type of snow avalanche would not bury you, it would knock you out or even worse.

There are much larger roof avalanches than the small one on the photo. Yesterday a facebook friend experienced a roof avalanche home. We wrote about 20 to 30 m³ having slid down with blocks weighing between 40 and 150 kilos!

So if you see a sign in the street with the word snöras just give that place a wide berth to protect yourself.


Travel remainders

This article is part of the series “2018-03: Varanger peninsula”.

Some unpublished photos from my winter journey. I want to show them as long it is still wintry here.

2 February – Jokkmokk

While the grown-up huskies are doing their job the puppies have to wait in the trailer. I guess it is very boring for them. There are curious and seek contact.

21 February – Kirkenes

While Chris, Annika, Ørjan and I are enjoying the gorgeous breakfast in the hotel Thon an asian tourist is waiting outside. She seems to be well protected against the elements but why has the fur to be pink …?

1 Mars – Ekkerøy

On the way to Kiberg Annika and I make a stopover in Ekkerøy where we enjoy a beach walk. Here we meet H. who invites us to visit her. We will make that true some days later. I take a photo of Annika’s and H.’s footwear. Tradition, meet modern world.

1 Mars – Ytre Kiberg

Cape East Arctic Adventure, our stay lies directly at the beach. I could spend weeks with only watching the tides and the changing weather.

4 Mars – Ytre Kiberg

There’s hardly any commercial fishing left in the small former fisher villages and the large drying racks for drying cod remain empty. Some people however still dry cod for personal usage.

5 Mars – Ytre Kiberg

A view through the window of Cape East Arctic Adventure. Today we will continue our journey.

10 Mars – Berlevåg

We hardly have the time to explore Berlevåg, we only buy food. Two images of Berlevåg anyway. Just for the records …

11 Mars – Kjølnes Fyr

This snowstorm shaken rocky shore appears more arctic than many other places of this journey.

14 Mars – Hurtigruten, near Øksfjord

A woman has found a wind protected place and watches the Norwegian winter landscape.

16 Mars – Saltstraumen

On our long car trip back from Ørnes to Skelleftehamn we pass Saltstraumen, a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world. We are too early to see the strongest maelstroms and I’m too eager to continue home. It’s still 500 km to drive.

Now I finally can erase my “later” folder on the computer.







Skitour to Bergskäret

Today I took advantage of the marvellous weather and joined a ski tour over the frozen bay Kågefjärden to the island Bergskäret. Bergskäret is the island in the Kågefjärden that is nearest to the open sea. We were four: Hans and Stefan, with whom I have already made some trips, Kenneth and myself.

We took the car to Kågehamn where we started the tour. Round 5 kilometres over the snow covered frozen Baltic Sea and we arrived at the island. We were not the only ones. We looked for a good spot on the sunny south bank of the island where Hans made a fire with fire steel and we grilled the sausages that Kenneth had bought. I had a light down jacket with me but instead of putting that on I put off my soft shell because I felt so warm. Although it was hardly more than +2 °C the sun warmed us and the island protected us from the wind. After barbecuing, eating and resting a bit we went round the island and skied back to Kågehamn. Round 11 kilometres in the finest weather. A good way to spend the Sunday!

Tack för turen Hans, Stefan, and Kenneth.

Postscript 1

On the way back we saw the first whooper swan of the season. Another spring sign.

Postscript 2

While the snow and ice on the Baltic Sea are still beautiful the minor streets are in a very poor condition. The ice on the street is so deeply rutted that I’m quite glad about the high ground clearance of my Subaru. Anyway I learned that even a car with permanent all-wheel drive can spin out although driving slow.

Period of fine weather

I guess, this week has been the ice fisher’s delight. Nightly temperatures between round -8 °C (good for the ice), afternoon temperatures round +8 °C, hardly any wind and no clouds hiding the sun (good for oneself).

It’s really hard for me to focus on my work when weather is as nice as it has been the last weeks. I would prefer having holidays in the mountains enjoying the fabulous late winter weather. I guess however that there are times when I have to earn money, too …

Already at 8 o’clock I saw five ice fishers standing, sitting or lying on the ice with their tiny plastic fishing rods. Although it was -6 °C it was warm in the sun. In the background the icebreaker Baus circuited around to break the ice for the next ship to come.

I knelt on the ice to make the photos above and heard it cracking. Was it thin ice? Not at all, it is still thick and safe. I guess it was the waves caused by the Baus that made the ice swing and crack. A strange experience. Good to now however that the water is quite shallow where I went.

But now I have to continue my work …


I didn’t work much more today, sometimes there are spontaneous opportunities to seize  …

Breaking the spring ice

This morning I saw not only the ice fishermen, but also the icebreaker Baus clearing the ice in the port of Skellefteå in Skelleftehamn. In the afternoon I remembered, that I had come into contact with K., one of the crew members on Facebook some weeks ago. I had asked if it was possible to go with the Baus to take photos sometime. K. had answered that I should just go there and ask the people. And so I did today.

I met a guy who works on the icebreaker and learned that it’s hard to make some kind of appointment. In winter no one knows exactly, when ships will arrive or depart due to the weather and the ice conditions and therefore neither when the Baus would start. But they would actually leave in twenty minutes to clear the ice for the ship Ice Star and I was allowed to join …

Sixteen minutes later I was at the dock again, this time with better clothes and my camera equipment that I got from home. How good that I live so close.

I was allowed to enter the Baus and say hello to the captain on the bridge.

He welcomed me, showed me some of the controls to steer the boat and allowed me just to go round everywhere to take photos. I didn’t want to disturb him, because he had to focus on his work and my plan was to make photos, not to interview the crew. At first I went up onto the top deck.

The water was completely covered with crushed ice. Some of the ice floes were at least half a metre thick. Slowly the Baus departed from the dock and I went down to the bottom deck to be closer to the icy sea.

While the Baus was slowly moving back and forth I went on every possible deck. I really enjoyed that freedom that you never can have on bigger ships as e.g. the Hurtigruten ships.

After some time of waiting and some time of moving around the way was clear for the Ice Star. Slowly it departed and followed the cleared channels between the solid ice where it with increasing speed left “Skellefteå Hamn”, the port of Skellefteå in Skelleftehamn.

While my eyes followed the Ice Star I spotted something blue at the horizon. Water! Somewhere behind the island Gåsören the ice had started to break and now open water covered the Baltic Sea behind Gåsören. Maybe the next paddle tour is closer than I think.

The Baus already had started to turn around (the previous photo shows the funnel at the rear) and return to the dock. I enjoyed watching the different types of ice.

Until now, the trip was extremely calm, now it started to get more rumbling, because Baus now went through packed ice – crushed ice that had frozen together and now was split into large irregular chunks. Great channel-like cracks developed in the ice, which soon closed again.

After some more minutes the Baus arrived and after thanking the captain for the opportunity to follow I left the icebreaker. The whole trip took less than 90 minutes, but felt much longer. I’ve been living in Skelleftehamn for almost eight years and it was a great experience to see my place of residence from a completely new perspective.

Thanks a lot, crew of icebreaker Baus!

Seeing the blue open water was a welcome spring sign. I saw two others today:

The first butterfly of the season, a small tortoiseshell that fluttered around the top deck of the Baus and (perhaps less romantic) the first teenager in shorts in front of ICA, the grocery store. I’m still waiting however for the first wild spring flower in Skelleftehamn.

White-tailed eagle

It’s not often that I see eagles in Skelleftehamn as near as today. it’s even rarer that I have my camera with mounted telephoto lens with me. And it was poor luck, when the eagle decides to wheel an extra round, so that I can take another shot when the first one is out of focus.

Today was such a day.

White-tailed eagle · havsörn · Seeadler · Haliaeetus albicilla

Small tortoiseshell

Yesterday I saw the first butterfly of the season on the icebreaker Baus. It was a small tortoiseshell. Today I saw another one fluttering in my sunny front yard. It rested on one of the wooden panels and I wondered if and how it can survive after such a long winter with no flowers around.

I sneaked into the house, fetched the camera (it still had the telephoto lens on) and made a shot for this blog. I made it from the street with a distance of 5 metres because I didn’t want to disturb this little fellow. The photo is a 100% crop of the original image, otherwise you would see only a small orange spot.

Small tortoiseshell · nässelfjäril · Kleiner Fuchs · Aglais urticae

Between the seasons

Still a lot of snow in Skelleftehamn, still freezing temperatures every single night, still no rain since last year (if I’m right), but …

… spring comes nearer. According to smhi spring has already come to the town Skellefteå some days ago. Seems to fit, because I saw the first coltsfoots in bloom in Skellefteå yesterday. Unlike Skellefteå, Skelleftehamn is located by the Baltic Sea and the Baltic Sea is still covered with ice that cools down the air and causes the beginning of spring to delay by several weeks.

The snow piles on the first two images are remnants of the continuous snow clearing the whole winter. When walking around while taking these photos I experienced snow depths between 0 and 60 cm. Round 60 cm of snow lie in my backyard, too. At least all fences look out of the snow again.



The first rain for ages

This morning I was awakened by a strange noise. The noise of dripping water.

First I thought of the smelting snow on the roof but that noise sounded differently. More like many tiny drops of water everywhere. Like precipitation of liquified snow, what do you call it …?

Ah yes, “rain”. It is called rain.

Of course I still know the word for rain but it was a long time ago that I experienced it, at least at home. I tried to remember the last rainfalls I witnessed.

  • 2 March (Domen between Vardø and Kiberg) – a short and light rain shower (temperature: -6 °C!)
  • 1 March (between Varangerbotn and Vadsø) – plus temperatures and rainy weather.

But before that? I even search the January and February articles of my own blog in for the word “rain” but only to find the words “train” and “terrain”.

But last year then?

  • 29 or 30 December (Bremen) – that’s Northern Germany, far away in the south. That doesn’t count.
  • 20 December (Skelleftehamn) – that’s the last rain at home I remember.

Exactly four months ago! The rest was snow. That’s the winter how I like it!

Since I consider blog articles without images as boring, I added an upside down image of Skellefteå today.


Holes in the ice

Today a neighbour told me, that it’s still safe to go over the ice to the near Baltic islands Norrskär and Bredskär. He said however, that there was so much water on the ice that even my rubber could be too short to stay dry.

An hour later at the coast: I let my eyes wander over the frozen surface of the Baltic Sea. Still there was ice everywhere but it looked old, wet, grey and bleak.

There was water on the ice but less than excepted. But I saw something different: Two holes in the ice. Quite near the coast and apparently very deep.

I definitely don’t want to break into the ice without dry suit. These holes are a sure sign for me that the ice-crossing season is over. Anyway, it’s 21 April and all the other years I’ve been living in Skelleftehamn at least parts of the Baltic Sea were already free of ice at this time of the year. This years it will take some more days or weeks until the ice disappears.

Incidentally I saw not only wet ice today but something else: The first tussilago!

Tussilago 2018

It has become a personal tradition over the last years: Every spring I look for the first blooming coltsfoot, in Swedish tussilago in Skelleftehamn. Even though I already saw some in Skellefteå, it wasn’t before today that I spotted the first tussilago here. It grew on the foot of a muddy southern slope and the blossom was not open yet. No wonder at temperatures of just 2 °C and occasional sleet.


Ice fishing in Skelleftehamn

Still going on: ice fishing on the bay Kallholmsfjärden in Skelleftehamn. Sometimes the positions of the ice fishermen look to me like modern dance-theatre.


The ice weakens

At time I use to wake up quite early, today even at 5:30. Probably it’s the sunlight that wakes me up despite of the black curtains and the closed window blinds. I felt well rested, got up and as many times before I took the car to the peninsula Näsgrundet to have a look at the Baltic Sea. The weather was nice (clear sky, -2 °C) and I was curious about the ice situation.

Already from the car I could see that the ice still extended to the horizon and the island Gåsören. The old ice looked greyish and many half-frozen puddles with meltwater were seen everywhere. The ice on land however was free of melting water and therefore still white.

The ice covering the water had started to get the first big holes. They seemed to be only next to the coast so I guess you still could cross the ice to Gåsören, but I wouldn’t dare anymore.

They are still some wintry motives left but it’s quite visible that snow and ice finally are coming to an end.

I took a last look to Gåsören and made a photo with my telephoto lens. Yes, no open water in sight yet! I skied to Gåsören twice this winter. I guess the next visit will be by kayak!

And otherwise?

  • more and more birds have been arriving, among others northern lapwings and curlews (if I’m right)
  • the roof of my house has been completely free of snow for two days now
  • more tussilago is blooming, but the clay-like soil is sometimes so muddy, that you can easily sink to the top of your rubber boots with one single step
  • still 30 cm of snow in my backyard – I measured right now –  but it’s melting rapidly and the ground round the fence and beside of the garage is already free of snow
  • the ice fishermen have been sitting, crouching or lying on the ice on every single day for the last weeks – yesterday even in the cold rain. They know, that saison is over soon

Although it sometimes hardly looks like it …

Spring birds and spring flowers

Two days ago I took the car to Umeå, 130 km south from Skellefteå. Last time I was there in January and it was winter. This time it was springtime. Nevertheless, more than half of the ground was still snow covered in Skelleftehamn and Bureå. But while I was driving southwards the scenery slowly changed. More and more snow free meadows and grasslands showed up. The grass is still brown and huge water puddles cover the lower parts.

In Lövånger I saw a lot of birds on the meadows and made a short stop to photo some of them. No great shots but it shows some of the most common migratory birds that already had arrived here.

(click on the images to see the bird’s names in English, Swedish, and German.)

South from Lövånger there was hardly any snow left, it remained only in ditches, in the shadow of forests and on some northern slopes – everywhere where there’s less sun. Still the landscape looked a bit dull, for nor the birches neither the other plants had got leaves.

Some hours later. Annika has ended her working day and we walk along the river Umeälven, which is free of ice. Only some small ice floes drift on the surface that mirrors the blue sky.

On the other side of the way along the river there’s a southwards slope. And here many spring flowers, not only tussilago are blooming. I counted six different flower types on the walk into the center of Umeå. Here they come:

(again, click on the images to see the flower names. Hopefully there are correct)