January 25, 2014
Will Zombies Freeze In The Winter?

Cold weather has got me thinking: Zombies will freeze solid in the winter in cold climates. We will be able to go around and chop their frozen heads off.

So if a zombie apocalypse happens in the winter the northern US, Canada, and most of Europe and Russia will survive. What will be key for long term survival: Set up defensible borders facing southward for when the thaw comes. Stop those zombies from moving north from Maryland, Virginia, the Western coastal regions, and other warmer climes. Switzerland would need to cut itself off from most of Italy and France. The Germans would need to keep out French and Spanish zombies as well.

Russia would be in a tough situation with a huge long southern border. How could they hold the line come the thaw? UAVs with motion detectors traveling over huge areas? How to funnel the zombies into killing zones? Human dummies with simple electromechanical hand waving and voice boxes? "Hey zombies! Here zombies! Come on, get some flesh.". Maybe cover the dummies with some artificial chemicals that smell like love meat?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 January 25 07:00 PM 

Fyrdsman said at January 26, 2014 8:59 AM:

"Russia would be in a tough situation with a huge long southern border."

Not really. Mongolia, Manchuria, and the Caucasus are pretty chilly places, be it winter or summer. The steppes of Central Asia can get pretty nippy too in the winter, so I don't think the borders would be as bad as expected.

I think roving bands of Turkics and Cossacks on horseback with...well, really any sort of armament short of sticks and stones could defeat zombies. No need for drones; just more Cossacks (A non-trivial portion of Russia's problems can be solved through the application of the phrase "NEEDS MOAR COSSACKS").

Also, wouldn't excessive heat+humidity just accelerate decomposition of zombified folks?

Kudzu Bob said at January 26, 2014 9:30 PM:

If zombies ever walk the Earth, then our main concern will be with putting them on a path to citizenship so that their cheap labor can be exploited and their votes garnered. Anyone who comes up with a sensible plan for dealing with the undead will be demonized by the media as necrophobic.

Ronald Brak said at January 26, 2014 10:01 PM:

Zombies move. Movement generates heat. If the muscle fibres are somehow getting the ATP they need to contracting as normal then perhaps 75% of whatever magical energy is powering them is going to be converted into heat. If a zombie lurches around generating 50 watts of mucular contraction it may be producing about 200 watts of heat which should be enough to keep it unfrozen internally while the external temperature is well below freezing, just as a living human can survive below freezing temperatures for a period of time. Except a human will eventually die while zombies appear to have an inexhaustable supply of energy and so, provided the cold doesn't become too extreme, may be able to keep functioning in below freezing temperatures indefinitely. But if the outer layer freezes and then breaks off as the zombie moves then perhaps very cold temperatures will cause them to deteriorate.

If zombies don't contract their muscles with ATP and move by some unknown force that manpulates them like puppets, less heat might be generated but friction from movement would still generate heat and may keep the zombie warm and mobile in below zero temperatures.

Tim Hogan said at January 27, 2014 8:20 AM:

They will all just huddle together in a very compact mass and sing Kumbayah until the snow melts - deep underground beyond the prying eyes of men. Slime molds are known for their intelligent "fruiting" behavior so why can't zombies have some interesting survival instincts?

Randall Parker said at January 29, 2014 8:32 PM:


Cossacks: great idea. I would want to ride with them and imagine I am in a short story by Leo Tolstoy.

Kudzu Bob,

Of course, a path to citizenship. Why didn't I think of that? Zombies have rights!


No way. They won't move enough to generate enough heat to prevent freezing.

dsgntd_plyr said at January 31, 2014 8:13 AM:

YES! This is my biggest criticism of "The Walking Dead." They've gone through 2 winters, but the number of zombies hasn't dropped noticebly. Also, zombies are humans, and humans die if they don't drink water. the zombies don't drink anything, so dehydration/desiccation should've lead to a mass die off.

Ross said at February 1, 2014 8:24 AM:

Assuming we are talking about "The Walking Dead" universe, funneling zombies should not be a problem since they are overwhelmingly attracted to noise. You still would need to have a hoard of Cossacks patrolling the borders both for the political reason you mentioned and also to handle the small number of stray zombies who seem to either be deaf or not attracted to noise.

I am afraid that mass extermination of the population in infected areas would have to be considered as studies are conducted to see if humans and zombies could mate to produce a new breed of zombies that are more intelligent and less decomposition prone. Much like livestock has to be slaughtered and disposed of to stop the spread of infectious diseases I am afraid the zombie virus might require considering the same risk management technique to be deployed in areas where less extreme measures are not effective.

Tangent: I wondered on Walking Dead how the zombies were so effective when it seems like just setting up killing field with plenty of loud weapons would draw them into to the slaughter. Being attracted to loud noises just does not seem like a survival mechanism evolution would favor. Even for the fairly small bands of humans it would seem like a perimeter looking for large bands of zombies and an interior defense that produced local noise to draw in the small groups that get through the perimeter would be an effective strategy. Any large band that was approaching could be lead away by the scout party using a noise making device to lead the horde in the desired direction. If there is a cliff nearby so much the better. If a effective means of killing the horde is not available at least leading then to a different area moves the problem to different survivors.

Phillep Harding said at February 4, 2014 8:02 AM:

Why don't the zombies attack each other?

Grig said at February 8, 2014 6:13 AM:

I don't think the Zombies are so bigger problem for the hummanity!

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