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Meteorological conditions on an Arctic ice cap—8 years of automatic weather station data from Austfonna, Svalbard



Only few reliable records are available covering more than 5 years of meteorological conditions on Arctic glaciers. Here, we report on the operation of an automatic weather station at the Austfonna ice cap, Svalbard, over an 8-year period from 2004 to 2012. Time series of measured and derived quantities are analysed to characterize meteorological conditions close to the equilibrium line altitude at ∼400 m.a.s.l. The mean annual temperature is −8.3 °C but exhibits large variability such that excursions above 0 °C occur even during winter. In general, relative air humidity is high and evaluating the wind pattern, we find that moisture is primarily advected from south-easterly directions. Net radiation is dominated by shortwave radiation and, hence, surface albedo plays an important role in the radiation budget. Frequent summer snowfalls, as observed in 2008, have the ability to maintain a high albedo over much of the ablation season, thereby having large impact on the energy balance as well as on glacier mass balance. Cloudiness is assessed using records of incoming longwave radiation. Analyzing the radiation data, we find evidence for the radiation paradox, i.e. an increase of average net radiation (2004–2012) from −15.7 W m−2 for clear-sky conditions to 7.3 W m−2 during overcast skies.