Climate zone: arctic polar zone
The climate in Svalbard is not really suitable for petted US Westcoasters or Central Europeans. It is mostly cold and in winter months the mercury column won't reach anything above freezing point. In the cold season even the maximum temperatures are well below zero. Due to the warmer temperatures the best time for traveling is from June to September. Nearly unattractive for tourists are the cold months from November to May.
› Duration of daylight and sunshine in Svalbard
hours of sunshine per day rainy days per month Precipitation in mm/day Relative humidity in % Absolute humidity in g/m³ (approx.)
Temperature records of the last 12 years
The hottest temperature measured from 2007 to December 2019 was reported by the Ny Alesund weather station. In August 2008 the record temperature of 20.5 °C was reported here. The hottest summer from July to September was recorded in 2017 with an average temperature of 5.2 °C. This average temperature will normally be measured every 4 to 6 hours, thus also including the nights. Normally, this value is 4.3 degrees Celsius. The average maximum daily temperature at that time was 7.1 °C.
The coldest day in these 12 years was reported by the weather station Ny Alesund. Here the temperature dropped to -29.5 °C in February 2011. Ny Alesund lies at an altitude of 8 meters above sea level. The coldest winter (January to March) was in 2011 with an average temperature of -12.5 °C. In Svalbard, it is usual to have about 3.4 degrees more at -9.1 °C for this three-month period.
Long-term development of temperatures from 1981 - 2019
In contrast to single record values, a long-term development cannot simply be brought about by all weather stations in the country. Both the number and the locations are constantly changing. A simply calculated average value would give a falsified result. If several measuring stations in particularly cold mountain or coastal regions are added in one year, the average would already decrease as a result of this alone. If a station fails during the summer or winter months, it does not provide any values and falsifies the average again. The subsequent long-term development was therefore reduced to only 2 measuring points in order to have actually comparable data over as long a period as possible.
In the years 1981 to 2019 there were only these 2 weather stations in the whole country, which reported continuous temperature values (Jan Mayen, Svalbard). From these weather reports we have created a long-term development that shows the monthly average temperatures. The hottest month in this entire period was Juli 2016 with 7.8 °C. Dezember 1988 was the coldest month with an average temperature of -15.6 °C.
The average annual temperature was about -3.5 °C in the years after 1981 and about -0.2 °C in the last years before 2019. So in less than 39 years it has increased by about 3.3 °C. This trend only applies to the selected 2 weather stations in Svalbard. A considerably more comprehensive evaluation of the global warming
has been provided separately.
More detailed information on global warming with a view by continent can also be found on our topic page on climate change