arctic region climate
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 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. 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. In summer, the sea ice keeps the surface from warming above freezing. In most of the Arctic the significant snow melt begins in late May or sometime in June. . This ice acts to keep the surface temperature at freezing, just as it does over the Arctic Basin, so a location on a strait would likely have a summer climate more like the Arctic Basin, but with higher maximum temperatures because of winds off of the nearby warm islands. Though the Vikings explored parts of the Arctic over a millennium ago, and small numbers of people have been living along the Arctic coast for much longer, scientific knowledge about the region was slow to develop; the large islands of Severnaya Zemlya, just north of the Taymyr Peninsula on the Russian mainland, were not discovered until 1913, and not mapped until the early 1930s A cloudy sky can emit much more energy toward the surface than a clear sky, so when it is cloudy in winter, this region tends to be warm, and when it is clear, this region cools quickly.. , 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. The winter ice cover allows temperatures to drop much lower in these regions than in the regions that are ice-free all year. This is especially true near the coast, where the terrain rises from sea level to over 2,500 m (8,200 ft), enhancing precipitation due to orographic lift. Likewise, in the beginning of September both the northern and southern land areas receive their winter snow cover, which combined with the reduced solar radiation at the surface, ensures an end to the warm days those areas may experience in summer.  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. During these early months of Northern Hemisphere spring most of the Arctic is still experiencing winter conditions, but with the addition of sunlight. The observations that are available show that precipitation amounts vary by about a factor of 10 across the Arctic, with some parts of the Arctic Basin and Canadian Archipelago receiving less than 150 mm (5.9 in) of precipitation annually, and parts of southeast Greenland receiving over 1,200 mm (47 in) annually. 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.. In September and October the days get rapidly shorter, and in northern areas the sun disappears from the sky entirely. Annual precipitation amounts given below for Greenland are from Figure 6.5 in Serreze and Barry (2005). These regions are slightly warmer than the Archipelago because of their closer proximity to areas of thin, first-year sea ice cover or to open ocean in the Baffin Bay and Greenland Sea. Between 1947 and 1957, the United States and Canadian governments established a chain of stations along the Arctic coast known as the Distant Early Warning Line (DEWLINE) to provide warning of a Soviet nuclear attack. By the early 19th century some expeditions were making a point of collecting more detailed meteorological, oceanographic, and geomagnetic observations, but they remained sporadic. By the end of the 21st century, the annual average temperature in the Arctic is predicted to increase by 2.8 to 7.8 °C (5.0 to 14.0 °F), with more warming in winter (4.3 to 11.4 °C (7.7 to 20.5 °F)) than in summer. As a result, these regions receive more precipitation in winter than in summer. If the Arctic is a doctor's patient, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Arctic Report Card is its annual physical -- a comprehensive check-up on the health of this vast and important biome. Expeditions from the 1760s to the middle of the 19th century were also led astray by attempts to sail north because of the belief by many at the time that the ocean surrounding the North Pole was ice-free. Without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the world will continue to feel the effects of a warming Arctic: rising sea levels, changes in climate and precipitation patterns, increasing severe weather events, and loss of fish stocks, birds and marine mammals. This period of setting sun also roughly corresponds to summer in the Arctic. The climate in the arctic is very extreme. In the figure above showing station climatologies, the lower-left plot, for NP 7–8, is representative of conditions over the Arctic Basin. 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. Over most of the seas that are ice-covered seasonally, winter temperatures average between about −30 and −15 °C (−22 and 5 °F). The Greenland Ice Sheet covers about 80% of Greenland, extending to the coast in places, and has an average elevation of 2,100 m (6,900 ft) and a maximum elevation of 3,200 m (10,500 ft). The Arctic Basin is typically covered by sea ice year round, which strongly influences its summer temperatures. And the report finds that looking at the full satellite record, the overall trend is moving toward a greener Arctic, as warmer temperatures thaw the frozen tundra, allowing shrubs and other plant species to take root in places they couldn't in the past. This map was made in the 1970s, and the extent of sea ice has decreased since then (see below), but this still gives a reasonable overview. Climatically, Greenland is divided into two very separate regions: the coastal region, much of which is ice free, and the inland ice sheet. At the North Pole on the June solstice, around 21 June, the sun circles at 23.5° above the horizon. That snow cover also melted much earlier in parts of the region, especially in Siberia. Temperatures above 20 °C are rare but do sometimes occur in the far south and south-west coastal areas. All variables are measured at relatively few stations in the Arctic, but precipitation observations are made more uncertain due to the difficulty in catching in a gauge all of the snow that falls. These stations collected data that are valuable to this day for understanding the climate of the Arctic Basin. 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. This region is continuously below freezing, so all precipitation falls as snow, with more in summer than in the winter time.  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. The arctic region is a combination of lowlands and mountains. 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. 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). These maps were made with data from the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis, which incorporates available data into a computer model to create a consistent global data set. The Chukchi, Laptev, and Kara Seas and Baffin Bay receive somewhat more precipitation than the Arctic Basin, with annual totals between 200 and 400 mm (7.9 and 15.7 in); annual cycles in the Chukchi and Laptev Seas and Baffin Bay are similar to those in the Arctic Basin, with more precipitation falling in summer than in winter, while the Kara Sea has a smaller annual cycle due to enhanced winter precipitation caused by cyclones from the North Atlantic storm track.. 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). 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. 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. 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 end of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a dramatic decrease in regular observations from the Arctic. There are several reasons to expect that climate changes, from whatever cause, may be enhanced in the Arctic, relative to the mid-latitudes and tropics. The climate pattern is characterized by long, cold and very harsh winters, lasting ten months or slightly more, and short, cool summers, spanning one to … The presence of the islands, most of which lose their snow cover in summer, allows the summer temperatures to rise well above freezing. Minimum temperatures in winter over the higher parts of the ice sheet can drop below −60 °C (−76 °F)(CIA, 1978). Very little vegetation grows in this area. In the decades that followed submarines regularly roamed under the Arctic sea ice, collecting sonar observations of the ice thickness and extent as they went. Beginning in 1979 the Arctic Ocean Buoy Program (the International Arctic Buoy Program since 1991) has been collecting meteorological and ice-drift data across the Arctic Ocean with a network of 20 to 30 buoys. Many of these stations also collected meteorological data. The rest of the seas have ice cover for some part of the winter and spring, but lose that ice during the summer. Another effect of a warmer climate is that the Arctic is growing greener. Arctic Climate Change Context- Our climate is already changing, particularly in the Arctic where permafrost is melting, glaciers are receding, and sea ice is disappearing. Variations in the amount of solar radiation reaching different parts of the Earth are a principal driver of global and regional climate. The Soviet Union was also interested in the Arctic and established a significant presence there by continuing the North-Pole drifting stations. 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. Latitudeis the most important factor determining the yearly average amount of solar radiation reaching the top of the atmosphere; the incident solar radiation decreases smoothly from the Equator t… 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). It is now no longer a question of "if" we will see an ice-free Arctic in the new few decades -- it is "when," said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and a co-author of the sea ice section of this year's Arctic Report Card. Fourth, a reduction in sea-ice extent will lead to more energy being transferred from the warm ocean to the atmosphere, enhancing the warming. Despite the low precipitation totals in winter, precipitation frequency is higher in January, when 25% to 35% of observations reported precipitation, than in July, when 20% to 25% of observations reported precipitation (Serreze and Barry 2005). These provided knowledge of perhaps the most extreme climate of the Arctic, and also the first suggestion that the ice sheet lies in a depression of the bedrock below (now known to be caused by the weight of the ice itself). The Arctic region is warmer than it used to be and it continues to get warmer. In 1966 the first deep ice core in Greenland was drilled at Camp Century, providing a glimpse of climate through the last ice age. This report also states that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [greater than 90% chance] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." 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. Short, cool summers and long, cold winters help to maintain permafrost on the land. The report found that the past year was yet another abnormally hot one in most of the region. The Russian government ended the system of drifting North Pole stations, and closed many of the surface stations in the Russian Arctic. 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.  However, in the six months from the September equinox to March equinox the North Pole receives no sunlight. The straits between these islands often remain covered by sea ice throughout the summer. Over the past 30 years, it has warmed more than any other region on earth. This expedition also provided valuable insight into the circulation of the ice surface of the Arctic Ocean. 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. The presence of the land allows temperatures to reach slightly more extreme values than the seas themselves. However, more snow could fall in another region of Canada. Arctic warming is causing changes to sea ice, snow cover, and the extent of permafrost in the Arctic. This definition of the Arctic can be further divided into four different regions: Moving inland from the coast over mainland North America and Eurasia, the moderating influence of the Arctic Ocean quickly diminishes, and the climate transitions from Arctic to subarctic, generally in less than 500 kilometres (310 miles), and often over a much shorter distance. As an example, we can look at the normal climate for June, July and August (JJA) in Ottawa. 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. The only regions that remain ice-free throughout the year are the southern part of the Barents Sea and most of the Norwegian Sea. But that too is changing, as warming leads to declines in both the area of land and length of time that it is buried in snow. In the first half of 2010, air temperatures in the Arctic were 4° Celsius (7° Fahr… In this view from a passenger plane, melting glaciers are seen during a summer heat wave on Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2020, near Longyearbyen, Norway. An earlier climatology of temperatures in the Arctic, based entirely on available data, is shown in this map from the CIA Polar Regions Atlas.. Winds and ocean currents cause the sea ice to move. Coastal areas can be affected by nearby open water, or by heat transfer through sea ice from the ocean, and many parts lose their snow cover in summer, allowing them to absorb more solar radiation and warm more than the interior. This is the image of the Arctic that comes to mind for many. This caused Fridtjof Nansen to realize that the sea ice was moving from the Siberian side of the Arctic to the Atlantic side. Most regions receive less than 500 mm (20 in) annually (Serreze and Hurst 2000, USSR 1985). By July and August, most of the land is bare and absorbs more than 80% of the sun's energy that reaches the surface. 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). What little there is falls as snow. 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. Therefore, temperature tends to decrease with increasing latitude. 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). Accurate climatologies of precipitation amount are more difficult to compile for the Arctic than climatologies of other variables such as temperature and pressure. , The map at right shows the areas covered by sea ice when it is at its maximum extent (March) and its minimum extent (September). Winter in the maritime Arctic (the Aleutians, coastal southwestern Greenland, Iceland, and the European Arctic) is a period of storminess, high winds, heavy precipitation in the form of either snow or rain (the latter at sea level), and moderate temperatures. The climate of the Arctic is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Canada’s Arctic Climate Region Canada’s Arctic Climate region can be found in the far north of the country close to the Arctic Ocean. In July, 40% to 60% of observations reporting precipitation indicate it was frozen (Serreze and Barry 2005). 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. One of the better known: the continually shrinking summer sea-ice extent in the Arctic. Third, because the Arctic temperature structure inhibits vertical air motions, the depth of the atmospheric layer that has to warm in order to cause warming of near-surface air is much shallower in the Arctic than in the tropics. To define the normal climate, we have to take 30 years of temperature data. First is the ice-albedo feedback, whereby an initial warming causes snow and ice to melt, exposing darker surfaces that absorb more sunlight, leading to more warming. By May, temperatures are rising, as 24-hour daylight reaches many areas, but most of the Arctic is still snow-covered, so the Arctic surface reflects more than 70% of the sun's energy that reaches it over all areas but the Norwegian Sea and southern Bering Sea, where the ocean is ice free, and some of the land areas adjacent to these seas, where the moderating influence of the open water helps melt the snow early.. These regions have summer temperatures between about 0 and 8 °C (32 and 46 °F). Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century expeditions were largely driven by traders in search of these shortcuts between the Atlantic and the Pacific.  These orbital changes led to a cold period known as the little ice age during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Along the coast, temperatures are kept from varying too much by the moderating influence of the nearby water or melting sea ice. Taken together, the changes outlined in the report show a region that is being transformed rapidly by warming brought on by human activity. Much of the ice sheet remains below freezing all year, and it has the coldest climate of any part of the Arctic. Precipitation in most of the Arctic falls only as rain and snow. The Arctic is changing. 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. Only 2016 saw higher temperatures than this past year. These data became available after the Cold War, and have provided evidence of thinning of the Arctic sea ice. Scientists say the Arctic is a bellwether for the global climate.  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. This record was lengthened in the early 1990s when two deeper cores were taken from near the center of the Greenland Ice Sheet. 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. 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). Treshnikov), 1985: This page was last edited on 22 December 2020, at 16:17. 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. Following World War II, the Arctic, lying between the USSR and North America, became a front line of the Cold War, inadvertently and significantly furthering our understanding of its climate. 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. Key ways to define the Arctic: The Arctic Circle (66 ° 33'N) delimits the Arctic in terms of solar radiation. The Arctic is warming more quickly than almost any other region on Earth as a result of climate change. "And that's telling you that this isn't a fluke. The climate of the Arctic also depends on the amount of sunlight reaching the surface, and being absorbed by the surface. Maximum wind speeds in the Atlantic region can approach 50 m/s (180 km/h (110 mph) in winter.. Sea ice is frozen sea water that floats on the ocean's surface. Sea ice is important to the climate and the ocean in a variety of ways. The climate of the Arctic region has varied significantly during the Earth's history. Arctic, northernmost region of the Earth, centred on the North Pole and characterized by distinctively polar conditions of climate, plant and animal life, and other physical features. 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. National and commercial expeditions continued to expand the detail on maps of the Arctic through the eighteenth century, but largely neglected other scientific observations. It's something fundamental that's changing in the Arctic environment. (CNN)Bitterly cold, frozen and inhospitable to nearly all wildlife apart from polar bears. Most scientists agree that Arctic weather and climate are changing because of human-caused climate change. In 1958 an American nuclear submarine, the Nautilus was the first ship to reach the North Pole. Likewise the United States and Canadian governments cut back on spending for Arctic observing as the perceived need for the DEWLINE declined. However, the high elevation, and corresponding lower temperatures, help keep the bright snow from melting, limiting the warming effect of all this solar radiation. Source: Record low temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. 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. Monthly precipitation totals over most of the Arctic Basin average about 15 mm (0.59 in) from November through May, and rise to 20 to 30 mm (0.79 to 1.18 in) in July, August, and September (Serreze and Hurst 2000).  Samples from ice cores, tree rings and lake sediments from 23 sites were used by the team, led by Darrell Kaufman of Northern Arizona University, to provide snapshots of the changing climate. 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. A result of these observations is a thorough record of sea-ice extent in the Arctic since 1979; the decreasing extent seen in this record (NASA, NSIDC), and its possible link to anthropogenic global warming, has helped increase interest in the Arctic in recent years. 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. Despite its location centered on the North Pole, and the long period of darkness this brings, this is not the coldest part of the Arctic. In summer, the presence of the nearby water keeps coastal areas from warming as much as they might otherwise. 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