Denmark is cloudy all winter with very few clear days. Why is this?


The winters in Denmark are extremely dark, cloudy and depressing. The problem for me is not even the fact that the sun sets early, it’s that I don’t see the sun during the day for WEEKS. Please, explain why I must endure this dark, cloudy winter hellscape?

In: 1

Denmark lives where the oceans and the land meet. The oceans control the weather of Denmark because the oceans and the land affect the air differently. When air travels over the ocean it can become full of water. The air coming from the Atlantic ocean is going to be particularly warm and wet, since a big current of warm water from the tropics is pushed up toward Denmark. For the most part, there is a strong wind from the west which pushes ocean air onto the land.

When that wet warm(ish) air begins to meet the land, the air is pushed upward, and the air gets colder, which smooshes the water in the air together into groups which form clouds. When it’s summer, the sun is facing toward the northern hemisphere, and it can burn away these clouds. In the winter, the sun is facing away from the northern hemisphere, preventing the clouds from being burned away. Denmark is also really far north, so in the winter the sun is very very weak there. Since the winds bring the ocean air onto the land of Denmark, clouds continually form without being burned up, resulting in a very cloudy and dark environment.

Similar to why it’s cloudy in Rochester, NY almost all the time. Cold air blowing over warmer water causes evaporation. Water suspended in the air makes clouds. Clouds block the sun. Thank me later.

Like much of the Atlantic coast, prevailing winds over Denmark are westerly, and so they blow humid air in from the sea. During winter the air over sea around these parts tends to be slightly warmer than over land, because of the gulf stream and, in early winter, because water takes a while to cool down. So particularly in December, you get relatively warm, humid air coming in, and then cooling down over land, which causes some of the humidity to condensate and form clouds.

(Also, in general when air that was hanging out over the sea gets pushed over land, it usually has to rise up as the land is higher, and when it rises to higher altitudes it also cools down. This is a bigger effect depending on how high up you live, or if you have mountains nearby. So not so much in Denmark.)

I myself live in the Netherlands which suffers from very similar weather patterns for the same reasons. I also lived in New York for a while and the difference was staggering. While winters are colder there, the more southernly latitude (comparable to Madrid or Lisbon) means days are longer, and also the prevailing wind in winter rarely comes from the direction of the Atlantic (which would be easterly, whereas winds are usually westerly or northerly), meaning lots of crisp, clear winter skies. It was great.