Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stockholm impressions

Since the end of September I am enjoying a sabbatical leave at the Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research at the University of Stockholm, a very nice city indeed even in autumn and now heading into the Swedish winter. A few climatic impressions from a Spaniard in the high North...

It has been a quite mild autumn and I could enjoy a fair number of very sunny days, which is in stark contrast with the Hamburg weather. All in all I found it more pleasant, maybe colder but definitively drier. My expectations before moving here were that the Stockholm inhabitants as would be quite insensitive to cold temperatures and that I would instantly be recognized from afar as being too warmly dressed. Far from the reality. My first surprised was that people here are really somewhat obsessed with temperature: already in autumn they frequently speculate about how the next winter will be, the memory of the hard winter 2010-2011 still lingering. It reminds me about the obsession that Spaniards may show about their own personal predictions for seasonal rainfall. There, winter-spring rainfall is the critical factor, here it seems that winter temperature can strongly modulate how people live, travel, etc. To my eyes, Stockholm inhabitants also tend to wear too warm clothes. It was not usual to encounter people in what for me would be full winter gear, hat, gloves, etc, when I was just comfortably wearing my light autumn jacket. Indoor temperatures are clearly set higher than in Germany, although this does not necessarily mean that that the energy consumption is higher as well. The heat insulation ought to be quite good, in my experience. The flat I am leaving in stays warm even if I switched off the heating completely.
My office is in Geovetenskapens Huset at the University of Stockholm

A few days ago I visited the Museum for Natural History, located very close to the University. The exhibitions were quite nice, although not mind-boggling. It seemed to me that this Museum has for some reason got stuck in the 80's, and the lack of proper modern multimedia paraphernalia is evident. However, they do have an exhibition about climate change, and of course I was curious how the general tone and quality of this exhibition was. To my surprise, the climate change exhibition was almost empty, whereas in the neighboring hall the exhibition about evolution was brimming. I found the climate change exhibition rather good, although some parts maybe were a bit too complex for the average citizen. It has its bits of Al-Gore style alarmism, but all in all it was relatively balanced and informative. Not everything shown was climate change impacts, and there were a few nice explanation about the workings of the climate in general. But, as I said, I could not help but have a strange feeling being one of the visitors

I am also grappling with the Swedish language, trying to understand as much as possible from the written short commercials in the tube or the billboards in the street - I find oral Swedish really hard to understand, although written the similarities to German and English are obvious. Our readers may be interested to know which are the words that I first learned because they appear most frequently on those billboards and were the ones that I had to look up first: jobba, arbetet, framtid (future), pengar (money), barn (kid), dator (computer), bil (car), väder (weather) … and a few more. Yesterday, I realized that I had not yet seen the Swedish word for 'climate' or climate change outside the university, a very strong contrast to Germany. Outside the university, the first reaction of a person that I am introduced after inquiring about my job is usually: 'oh, I hope the climate gets warmer, we all here want temperatures to rise'

1 comment:

Werner Krauss said...

In Montreal last week, the weather was fairly pleasant, too. But in the Shoe-shops, most shoes were fur-lined. I took this as a kind of proxy for my personal Montreal winter scenario. These pleasant temperatures won't last forever!