DPRK experiencing record low temperatures

UPDATE 1 (2/21/2011): The Korea Times has published a more recent (though lower resolution) image of Pyongyang and Nampho buried in snow–along with some information on the implications of the weather on the DPRK’s infrastructure.

According to the Korea Times:

Images obtained by the Korea Center for Atmospheric Environment Research (KCAER) show that a significant portion of the coast of (North) Korea Bay, located in the north part of the West Sea, has frozen over. The bay is also choked by abnormal amounts of drift ice.

The lower portion of the Daedong River, which flows into the bay, has turned into ice almost up to Nampo, the site of the country’s major harbor.

“Transportation of goods to Nampo Harbor has likely been extremely impeded for more than 45 days,” Chung Yong-seung, a KCAER expert, said in an email. “They could go to the Wonsan Port (in the southeast) instead, but it’s highly likely that sea transportation has been difficult.”

Further north, a significant portion of the Cheongcheon River appears to have been covered by thick ice.

According to KCAER, there has been less arctic ice worldwide this winter than in the past. But cold arctic air moved south, bringing a cold snap to many parts of the region and the rare freeze in Korea Bay.

The research center predicted that warmer air and water will flow into the bay in about 10 days, causing the ice to float away or melt.

The North’s state media reported last month that temperatures in December and January had been markedly colder than usual, causing hardship for “the people’s lives.”

South Korean humanitarian aid groups that maintain contact with the North said the harsh conditions had severely compounded existing malnutrition and shelter problems.

Pyongyang has reportedly stepped up its calls for aid from the international community in recent weeks amid what the aid groups consider a worsening humanitarian situation.

ORIGINAL POST (2/1/2011): DPRK experiencing record low temperatures

Image source: NASA

According to Yonhap:

The longest cold spell in six decades has hit North Korea, a report said Tuesday, allowing people to walk across the frozen river in Pyongyang while causing farmers to worry about their crop production this year.

Frozen along with the landmark Taedong River were ports on the west coast close to the capital, said the Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper that has correspondents in the communist country but is published in Japan.

The temperature in North Korea stayed below the freezing point for 40 consecutive days this winter, a phenomenon only surpassed by a 62-day streak in 1945, the paper said, citing a North Korean meteorologist.

“Even last year’s winter, which had already been colder than before, did not freeze the Taedong River this completely,” the Chosun Sinbo said. “People are now walking across the Taedong river in the heart of the city.”

The chill has frozen soil up to 42 centimeters below, 10 cm deeper than last year, the paper said. The freeze may cause a delay in the plowing season, making farming more difficult although it does have the benefit of freezing harmful insects to death, it said.

“At present, a wave of phone calls are being made by workers in the fields of agriculture and city construction” to the local weather agency with concerns, the paper said.

South Korea also suffered a prolonged cold spell this year with temperatures even in the usually warmer southern regions dropping to their lowest levels in decades. Heavy snowfall and high waves also disrupted ground and sea traffic in those regions.

Ryu Ki-yeol, the North Korean scientist cited by the Chosun Sinbo, cited a difference in pressure at the highest latitudes known as the Artic Oscillation as the cause of the prolonged cold spell.

Read the full stories here:
N. Korea gripped by longest cold snap in decades: report
Yonhap
Sam Kim
2/1/2011

Deep freeze hits N. Korea’s west coast
Korea Times
Kim Young-jin
2/21/2011

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