The New York Times:
New research on the connection between climate change and winter drownings has found that reported drowning deaths are increasing exponentially in areas with warmer winters.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, looked at drownings in 10 countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The largest number of drownings occurred when air temperatures were just below the freezing point, between minus 5 degrees Celsius and 0 Celsius (between 23 degrees Fahrenheit and 32 Fahrenheit).
Some of the sharpest increases were in areas where Indigenous customs and livelihood require extended time on ice. Across the countries studied, children under the age of 9 and teenagers and adults between 15 and 39 were the most vulnerable to winter drowning accidents.
“It might be minus 20 Celsius today and tomorrow and the weekend, but last week it was 15 Celsius,” she said. “Well, we might have forgotten as individuals that it was warm and sunny last week on a Tuesday, but the ice didn’t forget.”
The lack of sustained cold, which leads to more freeze-thaw events, is crucial. Each time ice thaws and refreezes, it gets a little weaker — and it can stay that way for the remainder of the cold season.
“Milder temperatures mean that the ice is not as thick, or not as solid as it would otherwise be,” said Robert McLeman, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University who was not involved in the study.