A cold wave swooped through the Scandinavian region last week bringing about sub-zero temperatures and blanketing the area in snow and ice, which caused Swedish ports to freeze. ESA’s Envisat captured the snow-covered Scandinavian Peninsula on 11 March, 2006.
The peninsula, 1850 kilometres long and from 370 to 805 kilometres wide, is shared by Sweden (on the right), Norway (on the left) and Finland at the very tip. Scandinavia is a region of northern Europe, comprised of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, which is located just below Sweden (seen on the bottom right-hand side).
Scandinavia was home to the Vikings, warriors who instilled fear across the European continent by using boats to raid other countries. The period from the end of the 8th century to the mid-11th century is known as the Viking Age.
Bordered on all sides by water – the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat and Skagerrak straits – the Vikings became expert shipbuilders and sailors. In fact, they were the first Europeans to reach North America, some 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
The Scandinavian Peninsula is often referred to as the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ because of a natural occurring phenomenon that allows the sun to shine for at least 24 hours. The opposite phenomenon, called polar night, occurs in winter when the sun sits below the horizon, producing very little or no sunlight.
These phenomena occur in latitudes north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. As the Earth orbits the sun, its tilt places the North Pole towards the sun in the summer and away from the sun in the winter.
The Aurora Borealis, also called Northern Lights, can also be seen in the northern tip of the Scandinavian Peninsula from September to October and March to April. The aurora is a result of space weather and occurs between 56 and 970 kilometres above the earth.
The aurora is caused by high-speed electrons and protons from the sun entering into the atmosphere and colliding with air molecules, which causes them to emit light.
Acquired by ESA’s Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), this image has a pixel sampling of 1200 metres and a width of 1270 kilometres.