Temperature measurements at Svalbard Airport began in 1975. In 2023, the summer was the warmest ever recorded, with an average temperature of 7.7 degrees Celsius.
Temperature measurements at Svalbard Airport began in 1975. In 2023, the summer was the warmest ever recorded, with an average temperature of 7.7 degrees Celsius.

Svalbard in 2023: Record hot, record cold, record wet, and record dry

The rain, heat, and cold in Svalbard in 2023 are making their mark in the record books.

“2023 has been special in several ways,” Jostein Mamen, researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, tells Svalbardposten (link in Norwegian).

Mamen finds it most remarkable that a Norwegian, Arctic weather station for the first time recorded an average temperature for a whole month of more than ten degrees.

In July, the average temperature at Svalbard Airport was 10.1 degrees. Overall, the summer of 2023 is the warmest ever measured, with an average temperature of 7.7 degrees – 0.3 degrees warmer than the previous record. Measurements at Svalbard Airport started in 1975.

“2023 seems to be among the 10-15 warmest years at the Svalbard station,” says Mamen, who believes there is cause for concern.

“10.1 degrees Celsius as an average in July at Svalbard Airport has quite significant symbolic meaning, as ten degrees marks the boundary between polar climate and cold-temperature climate zones,” he says.

If the climate zone changes, it will lead to faster thawing of permafrost, more precipitation, increased avalanche danger, and a shorter snow season.

After a warm summer, September was colder than normal in Svalbard. The average temperature was 1.6 degrees lower than the norm.

But it was also wet. As much as 58.7 millimetres of precipitation hit Svalbard in September. The old September record was 50.6 millimetres in 1999.

The driest month ever recorded at Svalbard Airport was in March 2023.

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Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

Read the Norwegian version of this article on forskning.no

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