Three consequences of Sweden’s record-breaking mild winter

And forecasts from SMHI suggest there is no dramatic drop in temperatures on the horizon, at least not in southern or central Sweden.

It’s difficult even for experts to say whether weather events are due to individual circumstances or part of the long-term trend of climate change. But here are three direct consequences which the warmer than usual weather has had in Sweden.

1. Problems for the forestry industry

Sweden’s vast forests provide around ten percent of the country’s employment and exports.

But more rain than usual, combined with less snowfall, could cause major problems for the sector, mainly because the muddy soil makes it hard for heavy vehicles to move through the forests.

According to Södra, Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, production efficiency has fallen by 20 percent this winter.

“It is muddy and wet, and you have to spend hours improving the soil and thinking about how we put down roads and so on. Everything takes longer the softer it is,” forestry worker Andreas Johansson in Kåtebol told Sveriges Radio.

2. Lower electricity prices

The warmer temperatures mean a boost to the wallets of many property-owners, especially those who live in detached houses (because these are typically the largest properties, and electricity is paid by each household unlike in some apartment blocks).

A mild winter reduces demand for electricity, particularly for heating, which has an impact on the prices. Meanwhile, unusually high levels of wind have provided record wind power, while precipitation and high levels in reservoirs means more electricity can be produced through hydropower.

The result is record low electricity prices, with the average price on the grid at around 27 öre per kilowatt-hour. That’s the lowest of the last ten years for this time of the year, and it has usually been around 30 öre.

3. An early wake-up for Sweden’s bears

At several of Sweden’s animal parks, the resident bears have had a restless winter.

Bears are not true hibernators, but species including the brown bears native to Sweden typically go into a deep sleep during the winter months.

But in Borås animal park for example, keepers have notices that the bears have been out and about much more than usual.

“Our male bear hasn’t left his den for several weeks, but the female goes out and looks at the weather a bit. This year we have seen that they even go and lie out on the concrete floor to cool off,” keeper Dennis Ahlin told the TT newswire.

And in Skånes Djurpark, the resident female bear was also reported to be awake while her husband slept, according to Sveriges Radio Malmöhus.