It’s all relative: Temperatures 4.5C above normal in Longyearbyen in 2017, but that’s chilly compared to 2016


OK, for those still unclear on the weather/climate concept: Longyearbyen had a couple of days of chilly weather to end 2017. But the climate here continues to show dramatic long-term change as temperatures during the year were again significantly above average.

The average temperature at Svalbard Airport was about minus two degrees Celsius during the year, or 4.5 degrees warmer than the historical average between 1961 and 1990, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. That’s considerably higher than the rest of Norway, which was 1.2 degrees above normal, but a far cry from the record-setting 6.5 degrees in Longyearbyen in 2016.

Longyearbyen has now had 85 straight months of above-average temperatures.

“Winter is getting warmer,” Anne Solveig Andersen, an official at the weather service, told Klar Tale. Winter months such as December and January are seeing some of the most pronounced above-average differences, including nine degrees above normal the week before Christmas in Longyearbyen, but winter itself is now shorter by weeks or months throughout Norway.

The colder months in Longyearbyen ranged from roughly five to ten degrees above normal in 2017, while the summer months were in the range of one to three degrees – and in May the average was only two-tenths of  a degree above normal.

Precipitation was also above normal during the year, but nowhere near the record set in 2016, due largely to massive storms during the second half of the year.