Climatic Change

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 485–509 | Cite as

Increased Precipitation in the Norwegian Arctic: True or False?

  • Eirik J. Førland
  • Inger Hanssen-Bauer


Results from the WMO Solid Precipitation MeasurementIntercomparison and parallel precipitationmeasurements from Svalbard are used to evaluate andadjust models for estimating true precipitation underArctic conditions. The conclusion is that trueprecipitation in the Arctic may be estimatedreasonably well when the wind speed at gauge height isless than 7 m/s. It is possible to give good estimatesof true annual and seasonal precipitation at Svalbard,as only a small part of the precipitation is fallingat wind speeds above 7 m/s. For rough calculations,the correction factors for liquid precipitation isestimated to be 1.15 and for solid precipitation1.85.The developed correction models are used to estimateamounts and trends of true precipitation for two sitesin the Norwegian Arctic. In Ny-Ålesund the trueannual precipitation is more than 50% higher than themeasured amount. As the aerodynamic effects leading toprecipitation undercatch are dependent onprecipitation type and temperature, the observed andprojected increase in the air temperature in theArctic would also affect the measured precipitation,even if the true precipitation was unchanged. Sincethe mid 1960s the temperature at Svalbard Airport hasincreased by 0.5 °C per decade, resulting in areduced fraction of annual precipitation falling assnow. In the same period, the measured precipitationhas increased by 2.9% per decade and the `true' by1.7% per decade. Estimates are made of the fictitiousprecipitation increase that would result from ageneral temperature increase of 2, 4 and 6 °C. The increase in the measured annual precipitationwould be 6, 10 and 13%, respectively. The expectedfictitious precipitation increase is thus of the samemagnitude as the real precipitation increase whichaccording to recent GCM projections may be expected inNorthern Europe as a result of a doubling of theatmospheric CO2 content.


Precipitation Wind Speed Ageneral Temperature Correction Model Seasonal Precipitation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eirik J. Førland
    • 1
  • Inger Hanssen-Bauer
    • 1
  1. 1.The Norwegian Meteorological InstituteOsloNorway

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