Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute
Various headlines about things such as Svalbard warming five to seven times as fast as the rest of the planet were prominent in worldwide media throughout June, so it’s fitting the average temperature for the month at Svalbard Airport was a record-high 6°C, 2.4°C above the average during the years 1991-2020.
The previous record high was 5.7°C in 2007, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Ny-Ålesund also set an all-time high for the month with an average 5.7°C, 2.9°C above normal, while Bjørnøya’s average of 2.9°C was 1.8°C above normal.
“The region around the northern Barents Sea has a warming that is 2 to 2.5 times higher than the average in the Arctic, and as much as 5 to 7 times higher than the global average,” Ketil Isaksen, a climate researcher at the institute, said in a press release. “This is a warning about what can happen in the rest of the Arctic.”
Another part of Svalbard experiencing an outline month was Hopen, which received 72 percent more rainfall than normal, according to the institute.
A widely-publicized study appearing June 15 in the science journal Nature states temperatures in the northern Barents Sea region rose an average of 2.7°C a decade during the past four decades, with increases of up to 4°C during autumn months.
“It is the melting sea ice that is the main reason why the temperature on land increases as much as it does,” the institute notes in a summary of the study. “The ice has previously been like a cooling blanket over the Barents Sea and when it disappears, the air temperature rises sharply.”
The fast-rising temperatures also suspected of triggering increases in extreme weather — which can include both abnormal hot/cold temperatures and storm patterns — in North America, Europe and Asia.
Previous studies in recent have issued similar findings, with Svalbard warming by about 5-7°C and losing two months of winter weather during the past 50 years, with a similar trend forecast during the next 50 years.