Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Dark Is Rising

All white satellite shot of Great Britain
I was confounded by this stunning image on BoingBoing... it's of England, Scotland and Wales under a blanket of snow, taken some time in the past few days. This is a part of the world where it hardly ever snows, with spring starting in February so that lots of flower are in bloom by April 1, and they can grow all sorts of plants that we can only dream about here in Minnesota.

As I recall Susan Cooper's young adult fantasy novel, The Dark Is Rising, a similar thing happened when Will Cooper was about to reach his full power as an Old One (the defenders of the Light).

In the book, snow blankets the Thames Valley heavily, to the point where roofs are crashing down. One commenter on BoingBoing sounded a bit like the novel: "It's quite extraordinary in South East England. I know that the rest of the country gets snow at least once a year but in the Thames Valley we hardly ever get it. I can count about 6 or 7 times in my entire life."

BoingBoing labeled this photo "Britain without the gulfstream," which reminded me of one abrupt climate change scenario I've heard about, wherein cold water from the melting ice caps cools the ocean and shifts the currents so that northern Europe (which is at the same latitudes as northern Canada) is no longer balmy.

BoingBoing was immediately taken to task for propagating an urban myth that the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe warm. A source at Columbia University says the warmth is partly from being on the east side of the ocean, and partly from atmospheric waves. That would be the Jet Stream, rather than the Gulf Stream. A NASA source attributes the warmth (and changes recently) to the Arctic Oscillation.

I'm not completely clear on all these different streams, but something is going on, of course. Whether it has anything to do with climate change, I have no idea. But I can't help thinking it could very well be the work of the Dark, as Susan Cooper would have it.

For perspective, though, we should all keep in mind the point made by one BoingBoing commenter:

You know what we call this [type of image] in Canada?



elena said...

That's an amazing picture...and a wonderful post. Streams indeed.

Blythe said...

Just reading the words "The Dark Is Rising" puts a shiver up my neck that a Montana Winter never does. Susan Cooper completely rewired my imagination--for the good, I think. And that image is exquisite and chilling.

Ms Sparrow said...

The image of Britain under a cloak of snow makes a chilling impression indeed. Is it a harginger of a coming ice age?