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 Edgeøya) 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 (Bjørnøya) and Hopen are also part of
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 Köppen-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.
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
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
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.
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.
More climate information
Climate tables are useful but they don’t 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.
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, it’s up to the reader to use it to it’s benefit.