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At Arctic archipelago, the heat is on

Svalbard is experiencing extreme temperature changes

The average temperature at Svalbard is so far this year almost 15 degrees Celsius above normal.

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Usually, February is a freezing month at the far Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. But this year is different. Over the last 30 days, the average temperature has been only 1,6 degrees Celsius, almost 15 degrees above normal.

Normally, the average February temperature at Svalbard is minus 16,2 degrees.

“We are talking about temperatures and temperature variations, which we normally never encounter”, Trond Lien from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute says to NRK. The reason for the abnormal temperatures is a long-lasting low pressure over the southern parts of the Norwegian Sea and the Northern parts of the Atlantic.

As previously reported by BarentsObserver, there have over the last years been several cases of extreme weather changes at Svalbard. On the 30th January 2012 , the town of Ny-Ålesund got an unprecedented 116 mm of rains, while the average temperature for the month was as much as 11,9 degrees above normal.

Researchers conclude that key parts of the Arctic is facing more rains and warmer temperatures.

The changes are affecting wildlife in the area. Along with the temperature increase, the number of reindeers at the archipelago has almost doubled. Since 1994, the average temperature at Longyerbyen, the local administrative center, has increased by 2 degrees.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations forecasts an average temperature rise in the Arctic of around 7 degrees this century. The ministry warns of potential dramatic natural disasters caused by global warming in Russia’s northern territories.