In the Storm Kingdom
Photo by Torsten Dederichs/Unsplash

In the Storm Kingdom

The Winds of the Antarctic
Mikołaj Golachowski
time 11 minutes

There’s no wind like that in the Antarctic—it can snatch up anything, even ocean water. Although it’s cold and sharp, it can also bring delight, laughter, and remind you that humans don’t call the shots in the world; nature does.

It was the second week of my first stay in the Antarctic. The wind was so strong that the roof of the research station would sometimes lift a few centimeters, allowing seaweed blown in from the sea to fall through the gap and into our soup. As he was enthusiastically gobbling up his dinner, my colleague—an experienced polar explorer—commented that he always wonders on which expedition the roof will finally fly away. Ten minutes later the roof was gone.

It’s windy practically everywhere on the planet’s southernmost continent. All it takes is a pressure difference to appear in the atmosphere. The pressure that is reported in weather forecasts measures the content of air in air. When it’s high, a given volume contains more air, and when it’s low there’s less. It gets windy where these two areas meet, because nature prefers things to be equal. It’s just like when two solutions are separated with a permeable membrane: they will attempt to equalize their concentrations. But winds will never settle down for good on a global scale, and atmospheric pressure will never equalize across the whole world. At any given moment, some parts of the globe are more heated than others, and warm air is lighter and less dense than cold air—it rises, creating new areas of low pressure. Of course, the mechanics of how gasses move around the


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It breaks mighty trees and gently sways the reeds. Renata Lis looks at the relationships that lyrical heroes, mythical characters, and she herself have had with the wind.

It seems these could be the last few years that we’ll be able to feel the sensations of the climate of our childhood. The climate we were taught about in geography lessons: transitional between oceanic and continental, and above all, moderate. It’s a ‘neither fish nor fowl’ type of climate (thus far, neither species have fallen prey to the Anthropocene, so the expression still holds), with little in the way of excess. Because although the Polish weather comes in various patterns, its amplitude is within reason: after the rain there may be a flood, but not one of biblical proportions; the wind may break the henhouse roof, but it won’t blow away the cross from Giewont [a site of religious pilgrimage in the Tatra Mountains – trans. note]. The rumble of impending disasters is starting to break through this idyll of relative stability – sandstorms and tornadoes are happening more frequently – but for now we perceive it as an anomaly; our norm is a constantly semi-conscious state of temporariness. This includes the rain and wind that bring not destruction, but specific states of the soul: bitter-sweet moods in shades of grey. Polish Shades of Grey.

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