Why white Christmases are becoming rare in Denmark

The chance of seeing a snow-covered Denmark at Christmas is slim, not just this year but for many to come, according to meteorologists.

Why white Christmases are becoming rare in Denmark
Aalborg on December 26th, 2011. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) has updated its prognoses for the country’s climate for the rest of this century.

A general temperature increase of 3.5 degrees Celsius is predicted if CO2 emissions remain at current levels.

That will result in fewer sub-zero days during the winter. The current average of 80 days each year with sub-zero temperatures will fall to 30 days, according to senior DMI climate researcher Rasmus Anker Pedersen.

“The probability of snowfall will be reduced, as will the probability that the snow will settle when it falls. So overall, white Christmases will become even more seldom,” Pedersen said.

“When frost disappears it also means that the season in which you can expect to be able to grow crops will be significantly longer. At the moment it’s 8 months, but it could increase to 11 months,” he added.

The warmest summer days will increase from 29 degrees to 33 degrees, according to the DMI long term prognosis. Heat waves will become more commonplace and summer rainfall will be more likely to take the form of thunderstorms.

“We are looking at a marked increase in heavy rainfall and up to 70 percent more downpours. That could mean that rain will not be taken up by the soil in the same way as if it rains more evenly,” Pedersen said.

Major floods, which currently occur around once every two decades, could become as frequent as biannual occurrences, according to DMI.

The meteorological prognoses can be used as a resource by local authorities that need to account for climate changes in city development plans.

“But it could also be used as a motivation to reduce CO2 admissions,” Pedersen said, noting that several scenarios using different projected CO2 admission levels had been mapped out by the agency.

READ ALSO: Here’s how to check what your local weather in Denmark could be like in 2100

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Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen

Denmark's parliament has given the go-ahead to build Lynetteholm, a giant artificial island that will protect Copenhagen's harbour waters from rising sea levels at the same times as providing homes for 35,000 people.

Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen
How the island will look while udner construction. Photo: By og Havn

The bill empowering the government to push ahead with the project passed with a massive majority of 85 in favour and 12 against, opening the way for work to push ahead on the 2.8 square kilometer island early as this autumn.

In a short debate on Friday morning, Thomas Jensen, the Social Democrat MP coordinating the bill, dismissed claims that not enough had been done to assess the environmental consequences of what has been described as the largest construction project in Danish history.

“Of the bills I have helped to implement here in the parliament, this is the one which has been most thoroughly discussed, with expert consultations, technical reviews, and almost 200 questions to the Ministry of Transport, which have been answered by the rapporteurs,” he said. “So in terms of process, it is completely worked out.”


Ahead of the vote protesters from the Stop Lynetteholm Facebook group staged a protest outside the parliament, with many dressed in Sean the Sheep costumes. 

Protesters dressed as sheep staged a demonstration against the Lynetteholm project outside the parliament. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The parliamentary vote is not the last hurdle.

The project is also being challenged in the European Court of Justice, on the grounds that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)  have looked at the impact of constructing the island itself, but not of the roads, metro lines, housing and other developments which will go on it.

Lynetteholm is being built partly as a coastal protection project, with a dam that will protect Copenhagen from future storm surges.

The plan was first announced in 2018 by the then Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the then Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen.