‘Black Xmas’ looms for Lapland

Finnish Lapland, the official home of Santa Claus, could experience snow-free ‘black Christmases’ by 2050, according to a new study.

Rovaniemi, which bills itself as the big man’s home town, was one of the rural communities targeted in the Clim-ATIC climate change project undertaken by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in Scotland.

Experts from Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Greenland took part in the three-year study which looked at the effect that global warming could have on northern communities. By 2050, the Finnish Environment Institute predicts that there will be less snowfall in Lapland, more rain and higher temperatures.

Clive Bowman, a researcher at the Clim-ATIC, told Scottish magazine Sepa View, “The potential economic impacts of snow melt and river flow changes in Finnish Lapland on tourism and flood protection were identified as a cause for concern”.

“In response, changes in snow and floods were simulated by the Finnish Environment Institute using several climate scenarios, including a conceptual hydrological model incorporating snow. In Rovaniemi, the risk of a ‘black’ Christmas increases as the start of the permanent snow cover is delayed,” he said.

Bowman added, however, that this doesn’t mean Santa will be unable to use his sleigh forever. “It is worth noting that maximum values of snow decrease less than the averages, whereas the minimum values decrease more. This means that, although winters with little snow will become more common in future, there will still be winters with large amounts of snow, and the variation between years will increase.”

Rovaniemi received 500,000 visitors to Santa’s grotto last year and says festive tourism is steadily increasing.

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