Past and future climate variations in the Norwegian Arctic: overview and novel analyses

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Abstract

Sparse stations and serious measuring problems hamper analyses of climatic conditions in the Arctic. This paper presents a discussion of measuring problems in the Arctic and gives an overview of observed past and projected future climate variations in Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Novel analyses of temperature conditions during precipitation and trends in fractions of solid/liquid precipitation at the Arctic weather stations are also outlined. Analyses based on combined and homogenized series from the regular weather stations in the region indicate that the measured annual precipitation has increased by more than 2.5% per decade since the measurements started in the beginning of the 20th century. The annual temperature has increased in Svalbard and Jan Mayen during the latest decades, but the present level is still lower than in the 1930s. Downscaled scenarios for Svalbard Airport indicate a further increase in temperature and precipitation. Analyses based on observations of precipitation types at the regular weather stations demonstrate that the annual fraction of solid precipitation has decreased at all stations during the latest decades. The reduced fraction of solid precipitation implies that the undercatch of the precipitation gauges is reduced. Consequently, part of the observed increase in the annual precipitation is fictitious and is due to a larger part of the “true” precipitation being caught by the gauges. With continued warming in the region, this virtual increase will be measured in addition to an eventual real increase.

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