Subarctic climate

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Subarctic climate worldwide
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Dsc
Dsd
Dwc
Dwd
Dfc
Dfd Koppen World Map Dsc, Dwc, Dfc, Dsd, Dwd and Dfd (Subarctic).svg
Subarctic climate worldwide
  Dsc
  Dsd
  Dwc
  Dwd
  Dfc
  Dfd

The subarctic climate (also called subpolar climate, or boreal climate) is a climate characterized by long, cold (often very cold) winters, and short, warm to cool summers. It is found on large landmasses, often away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N north, poleward of the humid continental climates. Subarctic or boreal climates are the source regions for the cold air that affects temperate latitudes to the south in winter. These climates represent Köppen climate classification Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd and Dsd.

Contents

Description

This type of climate offers some of the most extreme seasonal temperature variations found on the planet: in winter, temperatures can drop to below −50 °C (−58 °F) and in summer, the temperature may exceed 26 °C (79 °F). However, the summers are short; no more than three months of the year (but at least one month) must have a 24-hour average temperature of at least 10 °C (50 °F) to fall into this category of climate and the coldest month should average below 0 °C (32 °F) (or −3 °C (27 °F)). Record low temperatures can approach −90 °C (−130 °F). [1]

With 5–7 consecutive months where the average temperature is below freezing, all moisture in the soil and subsoil freezes solidly to depths of many feet. Summer warmth is insufficient to thaw more than a few surface feet, so permafrost prevails under most areas not near the southern boundary of this climate zone. Seasonal thaw penetrates from 2 to 14 ft (0.61 to 4.27 m), depending on latitude, aspect, and type of ground. [2] Some northern areas with subarctic climates located near oceans (southern Alaska, the northern fringe of Europe, Sakhalin Oblast and Kamchatka Oblast), have milder winters and no permafrost, and are more suited for farming unless precipitation is excessive. The frost-free season is very short, varying from about 45 to 100 days at most, and a freeze can occur anytime outside the summer months in many areas.

Description

The first D indicates continental, with the coldest month below 0 °C (32 °F) (or −3 °C (27 °F)).

The third letter denotes temperature:

Precipitation

Most subarctic climates have little precipitation, typically no more than 380 mm (15 in) over an entire year due to the low temperatures and evapotranspiration. Away from the coasts, precipitation occurs mostly in the summer months, while in coastal areas with subarctic climates the heaviest precipitation is usually during the autumn months when the relative warmth of sea vis-à-vis land is greatest. Low precipitation, by the standards of more temperate regions with longer summers and warmer winters, is typically sufficient in view of the very low evapotranspiration to allow a water-logged terrain in many areas of subarctic climate and to permit snow cover during winter.

A notable exception to this pattern is that subarctic climates occurring at high altitudes in otherwise temperate regions have extremely high precipitation due to orographic lift. Mount Washington, with temperatures typical of a subarctic climate, receives an average rain-equivalent of 101.91 inches (2,588.5 mm) of precipitation per year. [3] Coastal areas of Khabarovsk Krai also have much higher precipitation in summer due to orographic influences (up to 175 millimetres (6.9 in) in July in some areas), whilst the mountainous Kamchatka peninsula and Sakhalin island are even wetter, since orographic moisture isn't confined to the warmer months and creates large glaciers in Kamchatka. Labrador, in eastern Canada, is similarly wet throughout the year due to the semi-permanent Icelandic Low and can receive up to 1,300 millimetres (51 in) of rainfall equivalent per year, creating a snow cover of up to 1.5 metres (59 in) that does not melt until June.

Vegetation and land use

Vegetation in regions with subarctic climates is generally of low diversity, as only hardy tree species can survive the long winters and make use of the short summers. Trees are mostly limited to conifers, as few broadleaved trees are able to survive the very low temperatures in winter. This type of forest is also known as taiga, a term which is sometimes applied to the climate found therein as well. Even though the diversity may be low, the area and numbers are high, and the taiga (boreal) forest is the largest forest biome on the planet, with most of the forests located in Russia and Canada. The process by which plants become acclimated to cold temperatures is called hardening.

Agricultural potential is generally poor, due to the natural infertility of soils [4] and the prevalence of swamps and lakes left by departing ice sheets, and short growing seasons prohibit all but the hardiest of crops. Despite the short season, the long summer days at such latitudes do permit some agriculture. In some areas, ice has scoured rock surfaces bare, entirely stripping off the overburden. Elsewhere, rock basins have been formed and stream courses dammed, creating countless lakes. [2]

Distribution

Dfc distribution

The Dfc climate, by far the most common subarctic type, is found in the following areas: [5] [6]

View of pines in the Kuysumy mountains in Siberia Kuysumy mountains and Torgashinsky range. View from viewing platform on Kashtakovskaya path (Stolby reserve, Krasnoyarsk city) 4Y1A8757 (28363120875).jpg
View of pines in the Kuysumy mountains in Siberia
Subarctic climate in Alaska, near Yukon Subarctic Tundra.JPG
Subarctic climate in Alaska, near Yukon

Dsc and Dsd distribution

Climates classified as Dsc or Dsd, with a dry summer, are rare, occurring in very small areas at high altitudes around the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Alaska and other parts of the northwestern United States (Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho, California's Eastern Sierra) and the Russian Far East, such as in Seneca, Oregon or Atlin, British Columbia.

Dwc distribution

In parts of East Asia, like China, the Siberian High makes the winters colder than places like Scandinavia or Alaska interior but extremely dry (typically with around 5 millimeters (0.20 in) of rainfall equivalent per month) that snow cover is very limited, creating a Dwc climate in:

Further north in Siberia, continentality increases so much that winters can be exceptionally severe, averaging below −38 °C (−36 °F), even though the hottest month still averages more than 10 °C (50 °F). This creates Dfd, Dwd and Dsd climates.[ clarification needed ]

Should one go northward or even toward a polar sea, one finds that the warmest month has an average temperature of less than 10 °C (50 °F), and the subarctic climate grades into a tundra climate not at all suitable for trees. Southward, this climate grades into the humid continental climates with longer summers (and usually less-severe winters) allowing broadleaf trees; in a few locations close to a temperate sea (as in northern Norway and southern Alaska), this climate can grade into a short-summer version of an oceanic climate, the subpolar oceanic climate, as the sea is approached. In China and Mongolia, as one moves southwestwards or towards lower altitudes, temperatures increase but precipitation is so low that the subarctic climate grades into a cold semi-arid climate.

Charts of selected sites

Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: NOAA
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada [7]
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada [8]
Samedan, Graubünden, Switzerland
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: MeteoSchweiz [9]
Luleå, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Information [10]
Nerdal/Mo i Rana, Norway
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: met.no/klimastatistikk/eklima
Tromsø, Norway
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Meteo climat stats 1991-2020
Kiruna, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SMHI [11]
Verkhoyansk, Sakha Republic, Russia
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Pogoda.ru.net
Mohe, Heilongjiang, China
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Weather China [12]
Lukla, Nepal
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: weatherbase.com [13]
Crater Lake, Oregon, United States
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SHMI [14]
Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Climate chart (explanation)
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−18
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SHMI [15]
Östersund, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: yr.no
Oulu, Finland
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Tilastokeskus: Tilastoja Suomen ilmastosta 1981-2010

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate of Norway</span> Overview of the Climate of Norway

The climate of Norway is more temperate than could be expected for such high latitudes. This is mainly due to the North Atlantic Current with its extension, the Norwegian Current, raising the air temperature; the prevailing southwesterlies bringing mild air onshore; and the general southwest–northeast orientation of the coast, which allows the westerlies to penetrate into the Arctic. The January average in Brønnøysund is 14.6 °C (58.3 °F) warmer than the January average in Nome, Alaska, even though both towns are situated on the west coast of the continents at 65°N. In July, the difference is reduced to 2.9 °C (5.2 °F). The January average of Yakutsk, in Siberia but slightly further south, is 42.3 °C (108.1 °F) colder than in Brønnøysund.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate of Vietnam</span> Characteristics of the climate of Vietnam

Vietnam has a monsoon-influenced climate typical of that of mainland Southeast Asia. The diverse topography, long latitude, and influences from the South China Sea lead to climatic conditions varying significantly between regions. In more northern areas, the climate is monsoonal with four distinct seasons while in more southern areas, the climate is tropical monsoon with only two seasons. In addition, a temperate climate exists in mountainous areas, which are found in Sa Pa and Da Lat, while a more continental climate exists in Lai Châu Province and Sơn La Province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate of Manitoba</span>

Because of its location in the centre of the North American continent, the climate of Manitoba is extreme. In general, temperatures and precipitation decrease from south to north, and precipitation also decreases from east to west. Since Manitoba is far removed from the moderating influences of both mountain ranges and large bodies of water, and because of the generally flat landscape in many areas, it is exposed to numerous weather systems throughout the year, including cold Arctic high-pressure air masses that settle in from the northwest, usually during the months of January and February. In the summer, the air masses often come out of the southern United States, as the stronger Azores High ridges into the North American continent, the more warm, humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico, generally during the months of July or August.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate of Spain</span> Overview of the climate of Spain

The climate in Spain varies across continental Spain. Spain is the most climatically diverse country in Europe with 13 different Köppen climates, excluding the Canary Islands, and is within the 10 most climatically diverse countries in the world. The country is dominated by five major climate regions, with the other regions including smaller portions of the country. The Mediterranean environment and location in Europe means that it will experience greater heatwaves and dry weather due to climate change.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trewartha climate classification</span> Categorical system for longer-range recurrent weather patterns of Earth, orig. 1966

The Trewartha climate classification (TCC) or the Köppen–Trewartha climate classification (KTC) is a climate classification system first published by American geographer Glenn Thomas Trewartha in 1966. It is a modified version of the Köppen–Geiger system, created to answer some of its deficiencies. The Trewartha system attempts to redefine the middle latitudes to be closer to vegetation zoning and genetic climate systems. It was considered a more true or "real world" reflection of the global climate.

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