Yet another leap in the “Svalbard is warming faster than elsewhere” chart is now pinpointed as the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund is reporting a study of the mean average temperature during the past four decades at the research station has risen more than six times as fast as Earth’s average.
The study published this spring states multiple factors are contributing to the accelerated rise, including increasingly exposed land and water due to ice loss that is increasing dark surfaces that absorb more sunlight. Reduced sea ice is also allowing more warm currents from areas to the south to reach the area and affecting other climate-related influences such as air temperatures.
“With the positive trend of mean annual temperature of +1.14 ∘C per decade in the last four decades (1979–2018), the climate in Hornsund is warming in this period more than six times higher than the global average, which amounts to +0.17 ∘C per decade,” a summary of the report notes.
The report notes the biggest changes in temperatures are occurring during December, January and February.
Numerous studies during the past decade have declared the Arctic as a whole is warming at least twice as fast as the global average, and a comprehensive study released early last year stated Svalbard is warming at least three time as fast. The latter report also noted the average temperature in the archipelago has risen about five degrees Celsius since 1970 and may rise another five degrees by 2070.
But, as with the Hornsund study, the temperature range also may vary widely by season and specific location, with researchers noting a worst-case scenario of up to 20 degrees of total temperature rise during winter months in the northernmost part of Svalbard is possible.