Radiation climate variability in Svalbard: surface and satellite observations

  • Jon Børre Ørbæk
  • Vidar Hisdal
  • Lars Edin Svaasand


This paper performs a climatological investigation of the surface radiation budget (SRB) in Svalbard, on the basis of the Norwegian Polar Institute's radiation measurements from Ny-Ålesund (1981-1997) and the NASA/Langley Surface Radiation Budget Dataset (1983-1991). The radiation climate is related to meteorological conditions and surface properties, and compared to surface radiation fluxes measured from space. The natural variability of the short-wave and long-wave radiation fluxes in Ny-Ålesund is generally governed by the large annual variation in the incoming light with polar night and polar day conditions, the large changes of surface albedo - especially during spring - and the atmospheric circulation with frequent cyclone passages during winter with alternating periods of warm, humid maritime air from the south and cold, dry Arctic air from the north. Comparison with the satellite derived surface radiation fluxes shows that NyÅlesund is to a large extent influenced by the “ocean” climate to the west of Svalbard during the summer and autumn, but has a more “continental” radiation climate representative of the more central parts of the island during winter and spring. Ny-Ålesund is located in a fiord on the north-west coast of Svalbard, where the ocean cloud cover and the Arctic sea fog play an important role during the summer. During the winter and spring, however, the fiords are frozen and the drift ice covers a large extent of the surrounding ocean.


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How to Cite
Børre Ørbæk, J., Hisdal, V., & Edin Svaasand, L. (1999). Radiation climate variability in Svalbard: surface and satellite observations. Polar Research, 18(2), 127-134. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v18i2.6565