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Twentieth-century variations in temperature and precipitation in the Nordic Arctic

  • E. J. Førland (a1), I. Hanssen-Bauer (a1), T. Jónsson (a2), C. Kern-Hansen (a3), P.Ø. Nordli (a1), O. E. Tveito (a1) and E. Vaarby Laursen (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 27 October 2009

In a joint Nordic effort, a high-quality climate data set for the Nordic Arctic is established. The data set consists of monthly values from 20 stations in Greenland, Iceland, the Faeroes, and the Norwegian Arctic. The data set is made available on the web. Ten climate elements are included, and most of the series covers the period 1890–2000. The data series illustrate the large climatic contrasts in the Nordic Arctic, and demonstrate that parts of the region have experienced substantial climate variations during the last century. Despite increasing temperatures during recent decades, the present temperature level is still lower than in the 1930s and 1950s in large parts of the region. The pattern of long-term precipitation variations is more complicated, but in parts of the region the annual precipitation has increased substantially. At Svalbard Airport and Bjørnøya the annual precipitation has increased by more than 2.5% per decade during the twentieth century.

Variations in atmospheric circulation can account for most of the long-term positive trend in precipitation in the Norwegian Arctic, and also for the positive temperature trend from the 1960s. The positive temperature trend before 1930 and the negative trend during the following decades, are, however, not accounted for by the circulation models.

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