On the Tube: “When Weather Changed History”

Bulgewinterimage

Battle of the Bulge – Belgium

Tanks and infantrymen
of the 82nd Airborne Division, Company G, 740th Tank Battalion, 504th Regiment,
push through the snow towards their objective in Belgium.  U.S. First Army near Herresbach.

Image courtesy of the United States Army.

The Weather Channel has just debuted a new series called When Weather Changed History. Read
the official press release here. Airing
Sundays at 9pm and 11pm (ET), the show’s title aptly reflects the content. Featured
topics include: extreme winter conditions during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, the
Dust Bowl’s exacerbating effects on the Great Depression, and the potential
role of freezing temperatures on the 1986 Challenger Explosion.

As a geographer, I couldn’t help but notice an underlying
trend: cold. Naturally, I began to speculate about how that trend is likely to
shift in the face of global warming. While many scientists predict that extreme weather events of all kinds are likely to increase as a result
of climate change
, incidents including the 2003 European heat wave and 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita make
me wonder whether heat may become an increasingly decisive factor.

Another common theme throughout the series: military geography. Here again, warmer climes
may start to have a greater influence, but for an even more complex set of
reasons. In addition to shifts in global weather trends, changes in geopolitical
dynamics mean that U.S.troops are fighting more battles in hot, tropical and arid regions of Asia, versus
cooler and temperate regions of Europe and North America. In just the last century, the U.S.has had to adapt to new types of climate and terrain in Southeast Asia (Korea, Vietnam), the Persian Gulf, and most recently, Iraq. One thing is certain: Global
warming means there’s sure to be plenty of material for the show!

Visit the official When
Weather Changed History website, where you can take an interactive quiz (it’s pretty challenging!) and enter a Sweepstakes to win a weather-themed
vacation. And for more on the topic, check out this top ten list of How Weather Changed History “  from Live
Science. Then Tell Us: What are your
picks for the most influential weather events?

Sarah for My Wonderful World

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4 responses to “On the Tube: “When Weather Changed History”

  1. Thanks for your comment, Joe. I’d love to hear more about the impact of winter weather conditions on the Battle of Stalingrad, a decisive turning point in World War II, and what many historians consider to be the bloodiest battle of all time.
    A couple resources for our readers:
    1. Battle of Stalingrad: Operation Winter Tempest. http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-stalingrad-operation-winter-tempest.htm 2. Russia Remembers the Battle of Stalingrad. http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2008/s2152793.htm

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