Much of the winter variability in this region is due to clouds. These have very small annual temperature variations; average winter temperatures are kept near or above the freezing point of sea water (about −2 °C (28 °F)) since the unfrozen ocean cannot have a temperature below that, and summer temperatures in the parts of these regions that are considered part of the Arctic average less than 10 °C (50 °F). Scientific expeditions to the Arctic also became more common during the Cold-War decades, sometimes benefiting logistically or financially from the military interest. newsletter: "It was not just that the Arctic is changing — that's been said umpteen times. All of this extra heat has taken a toll on another critical part of the Arctic ecosystem -- its sea ice. , Climate models predict that the temperature increase in the Arctic over the next century will continue to be about twice the global average temperature increase. Annual precipitation totals in the Canadian Archipelago increase dramatically from north to south. There is a large amount of variability in climate across the Arctic, but all regions experience extremes of solar radiation in both summer and winter. At the North Pole on the June solstice, around 21 June, the sun circles at 23.5° above the horizon. It shows the average temperature in the coldest months is in the −30s, and the temperature rises rapidly from April to May; July is the warmest month, and the narrowing of the maximum and minimum temperature lines shows the temperature does not vary far from freezing in the middle of summer; from August through December the temperature drops steadily. Much of the ice sheet remains below freezing all year, and it has the coldest climate of any part of the Arctic. By July and August, most of the land is bare and absorbs more than 80% of the sun's energy that reaches the surface. "But the potential changes in the Arctic that are triple what we see at the mid-latitudes are going to completely change what the Arctic looks like, and that will feedback to the rest of the planet.". More precipitation falls in winter, when the storm track is most active, than in summer. The most widely used definition, the area north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun does not set on the June Solstice, is used in astronomical and some geographical contexts. Short, cool summers and long, cold winters help to maintain permafrost on the land.  The largest rises have occurred since 1950, with four of the five warmest decades in the last 2,000 years occurring between 1950 and 2000. Temperature proxies suggest that over the last 8000 years the climate has been stable, with globally averaged temperature variations of less than about 1 °C (34 °F); (see Paleoclimate). In winter, the heat transferred from the −2 °C (28 °F) water through cracks in the ice and areas of open water helps to moderate the climate some, keeping average winter temperatures around −30 to −35 °C (−22 to −31 °F). But in a matter of decades -- a blink of an eye in the history of this planet -- human-caused global warming has transformed the Arctic into a place that scientists say is increasingly unrecognizable. In summer, the presence of the nearby water keeps coastal areas from warming as much as they might otherwise. The first major effort by Europeans to study the meteorology of the Arctic was the First International Polar Year (IPY) in 1882 to 1883. These stations collected data that are valuable to this day for understanding the climate of the Arctic Basin. An earlier climatology of temperatures in the Arctic, based entirely on available data, is shown in this map from the CIA Polar Regions Atlas.. (USSR 1985). The interior ice sheet escapes much of the influence of heat transfer from the ocean or from cyclones, and its high elevation also acts to give it a colder climate since temperatures tend to decrease with elevation. These pieces of software are sometimes relatively simple, but often become highly complex as scientists try to include more and more elements of the environment to make the results more realistic. The observations were not as widespread or long-lasting as would be needed to describe the climate in detail, but they provided the first cohesive look at the Arctic weather. Arctic days lengthen rapidly in March and April, and the sun rises higher in the sky, both bringing more solar radiation to the Arctic than in winter. The recent wildfires were exacerbated by elevated air temperatures and decreased snow cover on the ground in the Arctic region, the report found. In 1884 the wreckage of the Briya, a ship abandoned three years earlier off Russia's eastern Arctic coast, was found on the coast of Greenland. Almost all of the energy available to the Earth's surface and atmosphere comes from the sun in the form of solar radiation (light from the sun, including invisible ultraviolet and infrared light). 55 million years ago during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, when global climate underwent a warming of approximately 5–8 °C (9–14 °F), the region reached … In summer, the sea ice keeps the surface from warming above freezing. The common notion is that climate change and global warming are responsible for melting ice in the Arctic region. Typically some falling snow is kept from entering precipitation gauges by winds, causing an underreporting of precipitation amounts in regions that receive a large fraction of their precipitation as snowfall. The warm air transported into these regions also mean that liquid precipitation is more common than over the rest of the Arctic Basin in both winter and summer. Finally, changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns caused by a global temperature change may cause more heat to be transferred to the Arctic, enhancing Arctic warming. ", Greenland's glaciers could lose more ice than previously thought, raising concerns for sea level rise, extreme warmth was especially pronounced in Siberia, Most polar bears could struggle to survive in the Arctic by 2100, study finds. The Arctic climate is changing rapidly. Here's a look at the biggest changes observed in the Arctic this year, and what they mean for the rest of the planet. Unusual clear periods can lead to increased sea-ice melt or higher temperatures (NSIDC). An essentially ice-free Arctic may be a reality in the month of September, anywhere from 2050 to 2100.. "This isn't just like a low sea ice year or the permafrost thawing in on one place where the temperatures are rising -- the entire ecosystem is changing," Meier said. From shrinking sea ice and melting on Greenland's ice sheet, to permafrost thaw and even shifts in species distributions, many of the changes observed across the Arctic are being driven by increased air temperatures, Overland said. As the amount of solar radiation available to the surface rapidly decreases, the temperatures follow suit. The parts of the Basin just north of Svalbard and the Taymyr Peninsula are exceptions to the general description just given.  Another significant moment in Arctic observing before World War II occurred in 1937 when the USSR established the first of over 30 North-Pole drifting stations. Where sea ice remains, in the central Arctic Basin and the straits between the islands in the Canadian Archipelago, the many melt ponds and lack of snow cause about half of the sun's energy to be absorbed, but this mostly goes toward melting ice since the ice surface cannot warm above freezing. Second, because colder air holds less water vapour than warmer air, in the Arctic, a greater fraction of any increase in radiation absorbed by the surface goes directly into warming the atmosphere, whereas in the tropics, a greater fraction goes into evaporation. Most of the Basin receives less than 250 mm (9.8 in) of precipitation per year, qualifying it as a desert. These regions receive many weakening cyclones from the North-Atlantic storm track, which is most active in winter. The maps on the right show the average temperature over the Arctic in January and July, generally the coldest and warmest months. At its maximum extent, in March, sea ice covers about 15 million km² (5.8 million sq mi) of the Northern Hemisphere, nearly as much area as the largest country, Russia.. Sea ice freezes in winter and melts during summer, and this year's summer minimum extent was the second-lowest ever observed in the 42-year satellite record, according to the report. This warming has been caused not only by the rise in greenhouse gas concentration, but also the deposition of soot on Arctic ice. Icebergs cause a hazard to shipping in Arctic regions. Annual precipitation totals increase quickly from about 400 mm (16 in) in the northern to about 1,400 mm (55 in) in the southern part of the region. As the ice retreats the Northwest Passage opens up, leading to new geopolitical challenges as Russia, the United States, China, and other actors jostle for influence. Source: Record low temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to the scarcity of long-term weather records in Greenland, especially in the interior, this precipitation climatology was developed by analyzing the annual layers in the snow to determine annual snow accumulation (in liquid equivalent) and was modified on the coast with a model to account for the effects of the terrain on precipitation amounts. The warming and resultant longer open water periods suggest a potential for expansion of marine vegetation along the vast Arctic coastline. The results highlighted that for around 1,900 years temperatures steadily dropped, caused by precession of earth's orbit that caused the planet to be slightly farther away from the sun during summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter temperatures average below freezing over all of the Arctic except for small regions in the southern Norwegian and Bering Seas, which remain ice free throughout the winter. The climate of the Arctic is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The result is winter temperatures that are lower than anywhere else in the Arctic, with average January temperatures of −45 to −30 °C (−49 to −22 °F), depending on location and on which data set is viewed. In the figure below showing station climatologies, the plot for Yakutsk is representative of this part of the Far East; Yakutsk has a slightly less extreme climate than Verkhoyansk. This marks noon in the Pole's year-long day; from then until the September equinox, the sun will slowly approach nearer and nearer the horizon, offering less and less solar radiation to the Pole. The report felt like it was signaling a sea change (or perhaps more appropriately, an ice change), both for the region and for Arctic scientists. In winter, the Canadian Archipelago experiences temperatures similar to those in the Arctic Basin, but in the summer months of June to August, the presence of so much land in this region allows it to warm more than the ice-covered Arctic Basin. Climatically, Greenland is divided into two very separate regions: the coastal region, much of which is ice free, and the inland ice sheet. During these ice ages, large areas of northern North America and Eurasia were covered by ice sheets similar to the one found today on Greenland; Arctic climate conditions would have extended much further south, and conditions in the present-day Arctic region were likely colder. This program operated continuously, with 30 stations in the Arctic from 1950 to 1991. The map shows the 10-year average (2000–2009) global mean temperature anomaly relative to the 1951–1980 mean. Therefore, temperature tends to decrease with increasing latitude. It's warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, seeing some of the world's first climate displaced communities. Sea ice is frozen sea water that floats on the ocean's surface. In summer, the coastal regions of Greenland experience temperatures similar to the islands in the Canadian Archipelago, averaging just a few degrees above freezing in July, with slightly higher temperatures in the south and west than in the north and east. The dry winters result from the low frequency of cyclones in the region during that time, and the region's distance from warm open water that could provide a source of moisture (Serreze and Barry 2005). This is due to the region's continental climate, far from the moderating influence of the ocean, and to the valleys in the region that can trap cold, dense air and create strong temperature inversions, where the temperature increases, rather than decreases, with height. Variations in cloud cover can cause significant variations in the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface at locations with the same latitude. Changes in the Arctic will not only affect local people and ecosystems but also the rest of the world, because the Arctic plays a special role in global climate. However, this region is not part of the Arctic because its continental climate also allows it to have warm summers, with an average July temperature of 15 °C (59 °F). "But now, if I have a reasonably average lifespan, then I'll probably live to see it, which is really stark in my view in terms of how fast things have changed.". Because of this, the region never receives direct sunlight, but instead gets rays indirectly and thus gets less solar radiation. Fourth, a reduction in sea-ice extent will lead to more energy being transferred from the warm ocean to the atmosphere, enhancing the warming. Precipitation in most of the Arctic falls only as rain and snow. Updated 2018 GMT (0418 HKT) December 8, 2020. Most Arctic seas are covered by ice for part of the year (see the map in the sea-ice section below); 'ice-free' here refers to those which are not covered year-round. Sometimes that is true, because Arctic air often spreads southward in winter to regions well outside the Arctic Circle. Corrections are made to data to account for this uncaught precipitation, but they are not perfect and introduce some error into the climatologies (Serreze and Barry 2005). Coastal regions on the northern half of Greenland experience winter temperatures similar to or slightly warmer than the Canadian Archipelago, with average January temperatures of −30 to −25 °C (−22 to −13 °F). Arctic sea ice decline: faster than forecasted. The northern islands receive similar amounts, with a similar annual cycle, to the central Arctic Basin. The Soviet navy also operated in the Arctic, including a sailing of the nuclear-powered ice breaker Arktika to the North Pole in 1977, the first time a surface ship reached the pole. Air temperatures, at the standard measuring height of about 2 meters above the surface, can rise a few degrees above freezing between late May and September, though they tend to be within a degree of freezing, with very little variability during the height of the melt season. For comparison, annual precipitation averaged over the whole planet is about 1,000 mm (39 in); see Precipitation). Routine satellite observations of the Arctic began in the early 1970s, expanding and improving ever since. This record was lengthened in the early 1990s when two deeper cores were taken from near the center of the Greenland Ice Sheet. During these two years thousands of scientists from over 60 nations will co-operate to carry out over 200 projects to learn about physical, biological, and social aspects of the Arctic and Antarctic (IPY). In the Arctic region, weather conditions vary greatly depending on the season. The coldest location in the Northern Hemisphere is not in the Arctic, but rather in the interior of Russia's Far East, in the upper-right quadrant of the maps. Greenland: The interior of Greenland differs from the rest of the Arctic. Geophysical research letters, 34(9). Furthermore, most of the small amount of solar radiation that reaches the surface is reflected away by the bright snow cover. Smaller regions of the Arctic Basin just north of Svalbard and the Taymyr Peninsula receive up to about 400 mm (16 in) per year (Serreze and Hurst 2000). "For me being about 50-years-old, I thought (an ice-free Arctic in summer) would be something my grandchildren would probably live to see," Meier said. The results of the seasonal forecast are compared to the normal climate of the 90-day period. In the station-climatology figure above, the plots for Point Barrow, Tiksi, Murmansk, and Isfjord are typical of land areas adjacent to seas that are ice-covered seasonally. RCCs are Centres of Excellence that assist WMO Members in a given region to deliver better climate services and products including regional long-range forecasts, and to strengthen their capacity to meet national climate information needs. Some locations near these coasts where the terrain is particularly conducive to causing orographic lift receive up 2,200 mm (87 in) of precipitation per year. Sea ice is important to the climate and the ocean in a variety of ways. The main exception to this general description is the high part of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which receives all of its precipitation as snow, in all seasons. Civilian scientific research on the ground has certainly continued in the Arctic, and it is getting a boost from 2007 to 2009 as nations around the world increase spending on polar research as part of the third International Polar Year. Summer days can be surprisingly warm, even in tundra regions, and summer thunderstorms in the Arctic are … The models, though imperfect, often provide valuable insight into climate-related questions that cannot be tested in the real world. On the Pacific side they average 6 to 9 m/s (22 to 32 km/h (14 to 20 mph) year round. The Arctic has been warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, triggering a host of changes across the region. The presence of the islands, most of which lose their snow cover in summer, allows the summer temperatures to rise well above freezing.  The last decade was the warmest in the record.. This region is continuously below freezing, so all precipitation falls as snow, with more in summer than in the winter time. Very little vegetation grows in this area. Sea ice is mostly fresh water since the salt is rejected by the ice as it forms, so the melting ice has a temperature of 0 °C (32 °F), and any extra energy from the sun goes to melting more ice, not to warming the surface. Some regions within the Arctic have warmed even more rapidly, with Alaska and western Canada's temperature rising by 3 to 4 °C (5.40 to 7.20 °F). Scientists say the Arctic is a bellwether for the global climate. The Arctic consists of ocean that is largely surrounded by land. The IPCC also indicate that, over the last 100 years, the annually averaged temperature in the Arctic has increased by almost twice as much as the global mean temperature has. As the snow disappears on land, the underlying surfaces absorb even more energy, and begin to warm rapidly. Though the report found that the duration of snow cover was roughly normal over much of the Arctic, snow cover over huge swaths of Siberia melted as much as a month early, owing to temperatures that were more than 5 degrees Celsius above average. The presence of the land allows temperatures to reach slightly more extreme values than the seas themselves. By November, winter is in full swing in most of the Arctic, and the small amount of solar radiation still reaching the region does not play a significant role in its climate. Cold snow reflects between 70% and 90% of the solar radiation that reaches it, and snow covers most of the Arctic land and ice surface in winter. The extensive array of satellite-based remote-sensing instruments now in orbit has helped to replace some of the observations that were lost after the Cold War, and has provided coverage that was impossible without them. The southern third of Greenland protrudes into the North-Atlantic storm track, a region frequently influenced by cyclones. In the figure above showing station climatologies, the lower-left plot, for NP 7–8, is representative of conditions over the Arctic Basin. The Arctic region is warmer than it used to be and it continues to get warmer. As an example, we can look at the normal climate for June, July and August (JJA) in Ottawa.  Geologists were able to track the summer Arctic temperatures as far back as the time of the Romans by studying natural signals in the landscape. Maximum wind speeds in the Atlantic region can approach 50 m/s (180 km/h (110 mph) in winter.. In the Arctic, the lifestyle and livelihoods are often linked to nature. The interior ice sheet remains snow-covered throughout the summer, though significant portions do experience some snow melt. As the planet heats up due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, the effects of that warming are felt here first -- and foreshadow the changes to come in lower latitude climates.  In 2009, NASA reported that 45 percent or more of the observed warming in the Arctic since 1976 was likely a result of changes in tiny airborne particles called aerosols. Accurate climatologies of precipitation amount are more difficult to compile for the Arctic than climatologies of other variables such as temperature and pressure. The climate in the arctic is very extreme. In July, 40% to 60% of observations reporting precipitation indicate it was frozen (Serreze and Barry 2005). What little there is falls as snow. There is a number of islands lying to the north of the Hudson Bay, which is where the lowlands are found. These early explorations did provide a sense of the sea ice conditions in the Arctic and occasionally some other climate-related information. This is the image of the Arctic that comes to mind for many. The Labrador, Norwegian, Greenland, and Barents Seas and Denmark and Davis Straits are strongly influenced by the cyclones in the North Atlantic storm track, which is most active in winter. The southern part of this area has small hills; the northern part has mountains, glaciers, plains, and islands. The Arctic region's climate is very cold and harsh for most of the year due to the Earth's axial tilt. ArcRCC-Network is based on the WMO RCCconcept with active contributions from all the Arctic Council member countries through a … Many of these stations also collected meteorological data. Wind speeds over the Arctic Basin and the western Canadian Archipelago average between 4 and 6 metres per second (14 and 22 kilometres per hour, 9 and 13 miles per hour) in all seasons. In the early 1930s the first significant meteorological studies were carried out on the interior of the Greenland ice sheet. Most scientists agree that Arctic weather and climate are changing because of human-caused climate change. The Arctic region takes up more than 20% of Canada's land area. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), 2007: United States Central Intelligence Agency, 1978: USSR State Committee on Hydrometeorology and Environment, and The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (chief editor A.F. Arctic warming is causing changes to sea ice, snow cover, and the extent of permafrost in the Arctic. .  However, during the last 100 years temperatures have been rising, despite the fact that the continued changes in earth's orbit would have driven further cooling. Over most of the seas that are ice-covered seasonally, winter temperatures average between about −30 and −15 °C (−22 and 5 °F). Since there is no sunlight, the thermal radiation emitted by the atmosphere is one of this region's main sources of energy in winter. The interior of the central and northern Greenland Ice Sheet is the driest part of the Arctic. The mountains are located in the far northwest border. As with the rest of the planet, the climate in the Arctic has changed throughout time. Variations in the amount of solar radiation reaching different parts of the Earth are a principal driver of global and regional climate. Another benefit from the Cold War was the acquisition of observations from United States and Soviet naval voyages into the Arctic. Around the edges of the Arctic Ocean the ice will melt and break up, exposing the ocean water, which absorbs almost all of the solar radiation that reaches it, storing the energy in the water column. In addition to serving as a vital habitat for polar bears and walruses, the Arctic's sea ice is a key part of the planet's air-conditioning system, reflecting the sun's energy back into space and keeping temperatures around the North Pole cool. As a result, the most complete collection of surface observations from the Arctic is for the period 1960 to 1990.. Winds and ocean currents cause the sea ice to move. Low spring and summer cloud frequency and the high elevation, which reduces the amount of solar radiation absorbed or scattered by the atmosphere, combine to give this region the most incoming solar radiation at the surface out of anywhere in the Arctic. They are also used to try to predict future climate and the effect that changes to the atmosphere caused by humans may have on the Arctic and beyond. Sea ice is relatively thin, generally less than about 4 m (13 ft), with thicker ridges (NSIDC). As a result, these regions receive more precipitation in winter than in summer. This station, like the later ones, was established on a thick ice floe and drifted for almost a year, its crew observing the atmosphere and ocean along the way.  Decreases in sea-ice extent and thickness are expected to continue over the next century, with some models predicting the Arctic Ocean will be free of sea ice in late summer by the mid to late part of the century. During the winter months of November through February, the sun remains very low in the sky in the Arctic or does not rise at all. Those areas near the sea-ice edge will remain somewhat warmer due to the moderating influence of the nearby open water. The Bering Sea is influenced by the North Pacific storm track, and has annual precipitation totals between 400 and 800 mm (16 and 31 in), also with a winter maximum. Over the Arctic Ocean the snow cover on the sea ice disappears and ponds of melt water start to form on the sea ice, further reducing the amount of sunlight the ice reflects and helping more ice melt. 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