Revisiting the extended Svalbard Airport monthly temperature series, and the compiled corresponding daily series 1898–2018

Keywords: Arctic warming, Arctic climate, Svalbard climate, Artic temperature trends, climate threshold statistics, Svalbard climate regimes


The Svalbard Airport composite series spanning the period from 1898 to the present represents one of very few long-term instrumental temperature series from the High Arctic. A homogenized monthly temperature series is available since 2014. Here we increase the resolution from a monthly to daily basis, and further digitization of historical data has reduced the uncertainty of the series. The most pronounced changes in the 120-year record occur during the last three decades. For the 1991–2018 period the number of days warmer than 0 and 5 °C has increased by 25 (21%) and 22 (59%), respectively, per year compared to the 1961–1990 standard normal. Likewise, comparing the same periods, the number of days colder than −10 and −20 °C has decreased by 42 (32%) and 27 (62%), respectively. During the entire time span of the series, the western Spitsbergen climate has gone through stepwise changes, alternating between cold and warm regimes: 1899–1929 was cold, 1930–1961 warm, 1962–1998 cold and 1999–2018 warm. The latest cold regime was 1.0 °C warmer than the first cold one, and the latest warm regime was 1.7 °C warmer than the previous warm one. For the whole series the linear trend for annual means amounts to 0.32°C/decade, which is about 3.5 times the increase of the global mean temperature for the same period. Since 1991, the rate of warming at Svalbard Airport is 1.7 °C/decade, which is more than twice the Arctic average (0.8 °C/decade, north of 66 °N) and about seven times the global average for the same period.


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How to Cite
Nordli, Øyvind, Wyszyński, P., Gjelten, H. M., Isaksen, K., Łupikasza, E., Niedźwiedź, T., & Przybylak, R. (2020). Revisiting the extended Svalbard Airport monthly temperature series, and the compiled corresponding daily series 1898–2018. Polar Research, 39.
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