AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Christmas Science

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on December 24, 2010

In science there are some christmas related things, such as the interpretation of the Star of Betlehem as a celestial object and the workload of Santa Claus from the point-of-view of physics. These can be considered as celestial objects which all in ancient Greece belonged to the field of meteorology. There are some other things in christmas also relating to meteorology and climate science.

In the Pacific Ocean there is a strong weather event known as El Niño. It has been most noticeable arnound christmas time and the name of the event referred to Christ child (El Niño is Spanish for little boy).

There is less industrial activity in christmas time. This causes a reduction in industrial pollution, which has been also observed from the atmosphere. For example Nottrodt et al. (1980) observed the atmosphere and noticed clear changes in atmospheric composition in December 24 and 25, 1976. They named christmas related reduction in industrial pollution as one possible explanation for the observation. Other similar results have been published by Bhugwant et al. (2000) and Madhavi Latha & Highwood (2006).

This is known more generally as the holiday effect and it has been observed also relating to some other holidays. For example Tan et al. (2009) studied how the holiday effect shows in atmospheric polluting substances during Chinese new year. They observed clear changes in the behavior of polluting substances. Most of the studied substances were reduced during the holiday but ozone concentration increased. Additionally, the traffic related pollution peaks during morning and evening rush-hours disappeared during the holiday.

There are also some additional emissions during christmas for example due to energy consumption of christmas lights and ham-cooking, and also due to over-eating and useless presents.

Here it’s -20°C and over 50 cm of snow. Merry christmas to all of you from this winter wonderland!


Chatrapatty Bhugwant, Hélène Cachier, Miloud Bessafi and Jean Leveau, 2000, Impact of traffic on black carbon aerosol concentration at la Réunion Island (Southern Indian Ocean), Atmospheric Environment, Volume 34, Issue 20, 2000, Pages 3463-3473, doi:10.1016/S1352-2310(99)00405-7. [abstract]

K.H. Nottrodt, H.W. Georgii and K.O. Groeneveld, 1980, Temporal and spatial differences in the elemental composition of atmospheric aerosols, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 14, Issue 2, March 1980, Pages 113-128, doi:10.1016/0048-9697(80)90068-6. [abstract]

K. Madhavi Latha and E.J. Highwood, 2006, Studies on particulate matter (PM10) and its precursors over urban environment of Reading, UK, Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, Volume 101, Issue 2, September 2006, Pages 367-379, doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2005.11.067. [abstract]

Pei-Hua Tan, Chia Chou, Jing-Yi Liang, Charles C.-K. Chou and Chein-Jung Shiu, 2009, Air pollution “holiday effect” resulting from the Chinese New Year, Atmospheric Environment, Volume 43, Issue 13, April 2009, Pages 2114-2124, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.01.037. [abstract, full text]


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