Europe in Ice-Age — January 1940 — Why?

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
5 min readJan 9, 2021


The 1930s had been a very warm decade. Average January winter temperatures in Western Europe are above zero degrees Celsius, since the end of the Little Ice Age (~1850). Suddenly, in January 1940, there were many cold records never measured before. For example: the coldest winter (November to March) since 1828 in Dresden and Berlin. All-time low records for Poland (-41°C). in Moscow (-41,2°C) and Wales (23.3°C). That came completely unexpected. What a drama. Not for climate science, which has not been interested in this sudden climatic shift until today? Does that indicate a lack of competence?

Few years ago several thousands climate experts from around the world arrived for a conference on climate change, hoping to find a way to improve the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change (adopted in December 2015). In Katowice, Poland, December 2018, the Parties are aimed to finalize a detailed set of rules and guidelines to enable the Paris Agreement to be put into practice. Particular the monetary aspect, namely the promise to raise $100 billion a year, from both public and private sources, by 2020, to help developing countries to address climate change. The sum is mind-boggling, and the complete ignorance to simple historical events — for example the arctic winter in Europe 1939/40 — is shocking and dangerous.

The Second World War (WWII) was only 100 days old when weather in Europe started to run amok. It is easy to compile several dozen ‘unexpected and unusual’ events indicating that the weather started to leave common standards since December 1939, culminated in January 1940, but continued well until mid-February, which is thoroughly discussed in numerous book chapter, online HERE & HERE.

One of the climatic high-lights of the winter 1939/40 had been a number of all-time cold records at many location in the Baltic Sea region, for example in Hamburg, on 12. February 1940. Almost a month earlier Poland reached to all time low, which brings us back to the current gathering in Katowice. In 277km distance in NNE and about 50km west of Warsaw is the village Siedlce. Already on the 11th of January 1940 the thermometer dropped to the incredible level of minus 41°C. At that time the Baltic Sea was still not covered with sea ice, which only happened in early March 1940, and for the first time in the 20th Century. How that could happen so suddenly, after the year 1939 had been within the normal temperature range, actually there had been a lasting warming since 1918, and the late 1930s had been the highest ever recorded.

Under such circumstances it is highly ignorant and gross negligent to talk about climate change in Katowice, although human activities may have caused it, or highly contributed to record cold temperatures in January and February 1940. The ignorance is particularly annoying, as the mechanism which lead to the rampage of climate can be easily attributed to the warmonger Adolf Hitler, who started WWII and this initiated that huge naval force crisscrossed the sea, and churned and turned the sea up-side-down by shelling, mining, torpedoing, and bombing. The immediate consequences are easily explained by a daily exercise:

Too warm water is the baby-tube in cooled down by churning the water with the hand around. The North and Baltic Sea are like the baby-tube, warned during the summer season. If forcefully churned in autumn and earkly winter, any stored heat diminishes quickly, opening the way for cold air in anti-cyclones (high-pressure) to move westwards up the shores of the North-Atlantic, denying low pressure cyclones to travel straight eastwards, directing them either to the Barents Sea or South to the Mediterranean Sea.

That happened evidently in winter 1939/40. And what is climatology doing? They ignore it, although it would turn the whole climate change debate in a complete different direction. Evidence would be on the table that man is able to a moderate winter scenario into a disaster within a few months. One mad-man as Adolf Hitler is enough to cause the coldest winter in Europe over more than a century.

The Katowice climate summit brought together around 30 000 delegates from almost 200 countries, top state officials, representatives of business and NGOs among them, but without the competence and interest to answer a fairly simple question: What cause the sudden climatic change in winter 1939/40? Which atmospheric condition caused the all-time cold record in the village Siedlce on 11th January 1940 and several other locations? An all-time record in Hamburg one month later?. What caused the full ice-cover of the Baltic Sea after more than 40 years?

Today, the 9th January 2021, eight decades later, the situation is very different, from which much could be learned, if there would be only more interest, willingness und competence.