Europe – January temperatures
The climate in Europe is largely shaped by the sea. A meridional climate change between maritime and continental from west to east is taking place over the continent, which is particularly pronounced in winter (January). This change superimposes the general south-north gradient of the temperature and leads to an arrangement of the lines of the same temperature that is not parallel to the width of a circle.
The temperature distribution clearly shows the increasing degree of thermal continentality over Europe from west to east. Due to the low sun in the winter months, the radiation balance is predominantly negative (radiation). The heat supply from the Atlantic is therefore of great importance. The air mass exchange linked to the west wind jet and the dynamic high and low pressure areas that form below it controls this process. The prevailing westerly to south-westerly currents over Europe lead to the influx of relatively mild, moist air from the Atlantic in winter (cf. 92.1). The maritime influence is most pronounced in Western Europe.
With increasing distance from the Atlantic, the degree of continentality to the east increases more and more. The negative radiation balance comes into play here more and more and causes the temperatures to fall due to the decreasing supply of mild air masses from the west. For example, the 0? ° C isotherm in January runs roughly on a line from western Scandinavia via Hamburg to the French Limestone Alps. While the January mean on the coasts of Western Europe is mostly between 5 and 10 ° C, temperatures in Northeastern Europe drop below -15 ° C.
The increasing degree of continentality from west to east is also expressed by an increase in the annual temperature amplitude. In the maritime Plymouth it is only a little more than 10 ° C, while in the continental area of Petrozavodsk and Kiev it reaches values of over 25 ° C. In general, the elevations of the mountains stand out as colder climatic islands (for example the Alps or the Pyrenees).
Europe – landscape during the last glacial period
The map shows Europe during the last glacial period around 20,000 years ago. Average temperatures of 4 to 8 ° C below today’s values had led to strong glacier advances in the Alps and an advance of the Scandinavian inland ice masses. Due to these far-reaching climatic changes, the climatic and vegetation areas shifted towards the equator: tundra dominated in western and central Europe, boreal coniferous forests as well as deciduous and mixed forests in the Mediterranean area.
Fine calcareous rock dust of different mineral composition, which is known as loess, was blown from vegetation-free deposits of the ice, such as moraine and gravel fields as well as periglacial debris layers. Despite the inhospitable living conditions, people were already living in Europe as gatherers and hunters in this period of the Stone Age. For more information about the continent of Europe, please check philosophynearby.com.