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Home* News and Stories → Tem­pe­ra­tu­re in Febru­ary 10 degrees abo­ve avera­ge

Tem­pe­ra­tu­re in Febru­ary 10 degrees abo­ve avera­ge

The win­ter is taking a break this year in the Arc­tic. It is well known by now that the glo­bal avera­ge tem­pe­ra­tu­re in Febru­ary was well abo­ve the long-term (1950-1980) avera­ge, as much as 1.35 degrees accor­ding to NASA sci­en­tists. The tem­pe­ra­tu­re increase was espe­ci­al­ly pro­no­un­ced in nor­t­hern high lati­tu­des: north Ame­ri­ca, Sibe­ria, nor­t­hern Scan­di­na­via. In the­se regi­ons, the mer­cu­ry clim­bed 5-10 degrees hig­her than it does in avera­ge.

Recent data from Spits­ber­gen con­firm very strong warm­ing also from this area: in Febru­ary 2016, the tem­pe­ra­tu­re was no less than 14.5 degrees abo­ve the long-term avera­ge, a dra­stic value! Still, Febru­ary 2016 is not the race lea­der. Febru­ary 2014 has got this doubtful honour, with a dra­ma­tic 14.5 degree tem­pe­ra­tu­re rise abo­ve avera­ge.

In Sval­bard, the recent mild wea­ther threa­tens to influence the ongo­ing win­ter sea­son stron­gly: the fjords do not want to free­ze, which is caus­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for arc­tic wild­life. For exam­p­le, Rin­ged seals, who are giving birth on fjord ice in April and May. Wit­hout fjord ice, pregnant fema­les are not able to deli­ver, mea­ning that this year’s repro­duc­ti­ve sea­son may fail for signi­fi­cant parts of the popu­la­ti­on. This will again influence polar bears, who are usual­ly having a good and important time hun­ting on fro­zen fjords in spring. This is an important fee­ding sea­son for many polar bears, inclu­ding mother bears with youngs­ters born a few months befo­re. Espe­ci­al­ly the­se fami­lies are stron­gly depen­dent on good hun­ting con­di­ti­ons in spring, after a fas­ting peri­od of seve­ral months around birth for the mother.

Also local and other tou­rists are not hap­py about the mild wea­ther. Last weekend, an incur­si­on of warm air again brought tem­pe­ra­tures abo­ve zero, making the snow thaw and melt in inland val­leys that are part of popu­lar snow mobi­le excur­si­ons. Locals have war­ned to take the popu­lar trip to Barents­burg the­se days, as the­re was very litt­le snow left in Coles­da­len and Grøn­da­len. The mel­ted snow is now tur­ned into slip­pery ice, as tem­pe­ra­tures are fal­ling below -10°C again.

At least, the fore­cast pro­mi­ses tem­pe­ra­tures to remain low for the near future, but it is not expec­ted that fjords (Tem­pel­fjord, Bil­lefjord) still get a wide, strong fjord ice cover this sea­son.

Open water in Tem­pel­fjord at Fred­heim. The last time this area was fro­zen solid was in spring 2013.

Tempelfjord at Fredheim

Source: NRK, local obser­va­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on.



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last modification: 2016-03-16 · copyright: Rolf Stange