Air temperature conditions in northern Nordaustlandet (NE Svalbard) at the end of World War II
This article presents the results of an investigation into air temperature conditions in northern Nordaustlandet (NE Svalbard) based on meteorological observations made by German soldiers towards the end of World War II (1944/1945) and 4 months after its end. Traditional analysis using mean monthly data was supplemented by a detailed analysis based on daily data: maximum temperature, minimum temperature and diurnal temperature range. The latter kind of data made it possible to study such aspects of climate as the number of “characteristic days” (i.e., the number of days with temperatures exceeding specified thresholds), day‐to‐day temperature variability, and duration, onset and end dates of thermal seasons. The results from Nordaustlandet for the warmest period of the early 20th century warming period (ETCWP) were compared with temperature conditions both historical (the end part of the Little Ice Age) and contemporary (different sub‐periods taken from the years 1981–2017) to estimate the range of warming during the ETCWP. Analysis reveals that the expedition year 1944/1945 in Nordaustlandet was, in the majority of months, the warmest of all analysed periods, that is, both historical and contemporary periods. The study period was markedly warmer than 1981–2010 (mean annual −6.5 vs. −8.4 °C) but colder than the periods 2011–2016 (−5.7 °C) and 2014–2017 (−5.8 °C). The majority of mean monthly air temperatures in the ETCWP lies within two standard deviations of the modern 2014–2017 mean. This means that values of air temperature in the study period lie within the range of recent temperature variability. All other thermal characteristics show changes in accordance with expectations associated with general warming of the Arctic (i.e., a decrease in diurnal temperature range and number of cold days, and an increase in number of warm days). The latter days were most common in the ETCWP.
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