This year's Svalbard summer is the warmest on record

Published on: 28. September 2020

The average temperature for June, July and August at Svalbard Airport was 7.2 degrees, which is 3 degrees above normal, and 0.5 degrees above the old summer record from 2015. For Svalbard Airport, a series of measurements dating back to 1899 has been prepared. This year's summer is extreme. It joins the ranks of hot summers for the last 20 to 30 years, and stands out completely from the previous 90 years.

A new all-time maximum temperature record was also set on the island on 25 July this year. Then we measured 21.7 degrees.

This year's Svalbard summer is the warmest on record


Climate change on Svalbard is becoming increasingly visible

Consequences of warming are becoming more and more visible in Svalbard. Areas that have had permafrost for thousands of years are now gradually thawing. During the summer, we now see various landscape changes as a result of the permafrost warming up or thawing. Thawing of the upper permafrost layer makes slopes more unstable. In combination with heavy rainfall, the probability of landslides and so-called thaw slumps increases, which quickly expose more permafrost, rapidly accelerating further thawing. There are also geotechnical challenges associated with construction in permafrost, because both climate change and the installations themselves can lead to heating and poorer bearing capacity in the ground. Changes in the permafrost also affect the drainage patterns of the water.


The new weather station in Istjørndalen on Svalbard was be installed in September 2020. This and other new weather stations will be put into operation in the inner parts of Nordenskiöld Land on Spitsbergen during the period 2019-2021. The investment in new weather stations is an excellent example of how interdisciplinary collaboration leads to new and expanded information that can be used for various purposes. These stations increase the safety of those who travel in the area, at the same time as they will provide much-needed knowledge about climate variations in the inner regions of Svalbard. Photo: Bernt Enge Larsen / MET


More knowledge needed

The Meteorological Institute closely monitors the weather and climate development in Svalbard. In COAT, we are now installing new weather stations inland in the valleys on Svalbard in order to gain more knowledge about the climate variations in the inner valleys of the archipelago. The first two weather stations as part of COAT were established at Janssonhaugen in Adventdalen and in Reindalspasset at the top of Reindalen on Svalbard in September / October 2019. In September this year, a new weather station was established in Istjørndalen on Nordenskiöld Land.