May 21, 2024

Canadian Winters: Why Are They So Cold?

Canadian winters are characterized by freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls. However, Europe and Canada are geographically on the same level. Where do the differences come from?

If you look at a world map, you can quickly see that Canada is a lot Large and very compact terrain As Europe. Large areas of the country extend into the polar zone, with short summers and significantly cooler winters. A large inland area is heavily affected Continental climate Characterized by large temperature differences throughout the year. Although the summers are hot, the winters are even colder, similar to our latitudes. As the term “continental” suggests, ocean currents have very little influence.


Europe, on the other hand, is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and almost as rugged by the North and Baltic Seas. All these watersheds influence a relatively temperate climate. For example, Austria is in the middle of one Temperate zone, a transitional region without extreme weather conditions. Here on the Atlantic coast the temperate maritime climate meets the continental climate of Russia. It is only very cold when air masses from Siberia flow into Central Europe.


Meteorologist Martin Buchekar explains what it means to have a cold winter in Canada.

Effects of the Gulf Stream


Europe's temperate climate is largely influenced by the Gulf Stream. This is one Largest ocean currents on Earth. The Gulf Stream is named after the Gulf of Mexico. There, in the Caribbean, the water warms up to 30 degrees Celsius and flows across the Atlantic towards the European continent. The influence is widespread from Ireland to the coast of Norway, as the coasts here remain mostly ice-free and the vegetation is reminiscent of more southern climes. Without the Gulf Stream, Europe should also expect harsher winters. Like Canada's Hudson Bay, the North Sea is frozen for months.

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Climatic differences caused by mountain ranges


It is not only ocean currents that affect climate variability, but mountain ranges also play their part. If you look at the higher elevations of Canada, they are pouring Rocky Mountains It seems obvious. Although it is an impressive mountain range, its north-south orientation gives the region its weaknesses. This orientation allows unimpeded passage of arctic air masses from the north and isolates the interior from milder Pacific winds. Only the coastal area around Vancouver is almost Mediterranean, but can benefit from a monsoon climate.


There is one of Europe's mountains opposite effect. A belt of Pyrenees, Alps, and Carpathians forms a barrier from west to east, so Arctic air can only reach the Mediterranean through detours. Warm sea air, strengthened by the Gulf Stream, easily crosses the European continent via westerlies, bringing mild, moist air masses with it.


So the climate of a region does not depend only on its geographical latitude. Many complex factors from air masses, water bodies, and surface structure make each region's climate unique.