Svalbard With Greatest Changes in Winter Climate

The winter in Longyearbyen has become four degrees warmer in the last thirty years. With higher temperatures comes often precipitation, such as rain. There has also become more alternation between frost and mild weather, reports the Norwegian Meteorological Institute in a press release.

If one compares this and the previous climatological normal, one can see that the winter has become four degrees warmer in Longyearbyen. The difference is even greater if one takes a look at just Ny-Ålesund in the West and Hopen in the South. In both of these places, it has become five degrees warmer.

"Natural climate changes gave a mild period on Svalbard in the 1930s. Now, global warming comes on top of the natural factors which control the climate," says climate researcher Jostein Mamen.

In Longyearbyen, measured at Svalbard Airport, the average temperature in December, January and February was between -13 and -16 degrees in the period from 1961-1990. In the period from 1991 to 2020, it was -9 to -12 degrees. 

When the winter, on average, offers a higher temperature, the precipitation can come more often as rain. Higher temperatures also mean more days of mild weather, The shifts between frost and mild weather can be a strain on nature, buildings, and infrastructure.