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The climate of Svalbard
Spitsbergen or Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean and is an overseas territory of Norway. Spitsbergen consists of three large islands (Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet and Edgeya) and dozens of smaller islands. Although Spitsbergen is under the supervision of Norway it is an autonomous country with its own tax system and an own domain code for the internet: .sj. Administratively the more southerly located islands Bear Island (Bjrnya) and Hopen are also part of Spitsbergen.

 

Arctic Climate
The islands are located within the Arctic Circle and consequently are part of the North Pole. This means Spitsbergen has an arctic climate (type EF/ET according to the Kppen-Geiger climate classification) with cold winters and cool summers. Because of low temperatures almost two thirds of the country consists of glaciers, land ice and snow. A large part of the year the surrounding seas are not frozen over and are well navigable. This is caused by the warm Gulf Stream that supplies relatively warm water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean. In the northeastern part this influence hardly has any effect causing the sea water to be colder and chances of (partly) frozen waters to be higher.

Wind
Fierce winds are not uncommon on the islands of Spitsbergen. From September till May these winds in combination with snowfall may cause very bleak weather. Snowstorms and drifting snow make it very unpleasant to be outdoors. When the wind abates on Spitsbergen it often feels warmer than it actually is, this is caused by low humidity figures. During the summer it may even feel spring like when temperatures are 10-12 degrees Celsius and you stay on the leeward side.

Cool summers
Summers in Spitsbergen are cold. During the day temperatures of 4-7 degrees Celsius can be recorded in Longyearbyen and Barentszburg . In June and July temperatures may rise to 10-12 degrees Celsius which is really warm for this region. When temperatures rise above 20 degrees Celsius you can speak of a record. However, temperatures as high as 20 degrees Celsius only occur a few times per century. The eastern and northeastern parts as well as the higher regions are even colder. During the summer subzero temperatures are not uncommon. When cold air is supplied from the arctic region mid-summer snowfall may even occur in Spitsbergen.

Precipitation
Spitsbergen is a relatively dry country. Annual precipitation figures are between 150-350 millimeters on average. Precipitation mainly falls in the form of snow, only during the summer rainfall may occur in Spitsbergen, especially in the southwestern and southeastern parts. Precipitation is quite evenly spread out over the year with spring as the driest period.

 

Climate figures
The figures below are based on long term weather and climate records and can be seen as an average for Spitsbergen. The largest deviations are that both air and sea temperatures are lower in the northeastern part and the higher regions.

average
 maximum
temperature (C)

average
minimum

temperature (C)
average
hours of sunshine

per
day
average days with precipitation
per month
average
mm
precipitation
per month
average
sea
temperature (C)
January -13 -21 0 15 2
February -14 -23 0 14 1
March -13 -20 3 15 1
April -10 -17 8 11 1
May -3 -8 9 10 2
June 3 -2 7 9 3
July 7 3 7 11 5
August 6 2 5 13 6
September 1 -4 3 14 5
October -5 -10 1 13 4
November -9 -15 0 13 3
December -12 -19 0 14 2
= 0-5 mm ● = 6-30 mm ● = 31-60 mm ● = 61-100 mm ● = 101-200 mm ● = over 200 mm
= 0-0.2 inches ● = 0.2-1.2 inches ● = 1.2-2.4 inches ● = 2.5-4 inches ● = 4.1-8 inches ● = over 8 inches

More climate information
Climate tables are useful but they dont give an overall picture of the climate and possible weather conditions during a period of time. How high the chances are of hot or cold weather or hurricanes can often not be found in these tables. This is why we offer extra climate information per month. The figures below are for Spitsbergen.
 

chance of
(very) hot

weather

chance of
(very) cool
weather
chance of
long-term

precipitation
chance of
hurricanes
(cyclones)
chance of
sunny days

UV-index

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
click here for the explanation of the symbols

 

Disclaimer
The information at this site was carefully composed from climate data collected by meteorological services, meteorological offices, climate experts and other sources. More climate info is based on statistics, climate data and personal experience. No rights can be derived from this site. Weather has no memory and gives no guaranties. Nothing is as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. The authors of this site feel in no way responsible for any damages caused by misinterpretation or other circumstances that may influence your holiday or trip to a certain destination. We provide information, its up to the reader to use it to its benefit.

 

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