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 characterised by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N 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 −70 °C (−94 °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 during any month in many areas.

Description

The first D indicates continental.

The third letter denotes temperature:

Precipitation

Most subarctic climates have little precipitation, typically no more than 380 mm (15 in) over an entire year. Away from the coasts, precipitation occurs mostly in the warmer 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 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, 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, 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 poleward 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 even less suitable for trees. Equatorward or toward a lower altitude, this climate grades into the humid continental climates with longer summers (and usually less-severe winters); 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]
Moosonee, Ontario, Canada
Climate chart (explanation)
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Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada [8]
Samedan, Graubünden, Switzerland
Climate chart (explanation)
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Source: MeteoSchweiz [9]
Luleå, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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Source: World Weather Information [10]
Nerdal/Mo i Rana, Norway
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Source: met.no/klimastatistikk/eklima
Tromsø, Norway
Climate chart (explanation)
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Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Information Service
Kiruna, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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Source: SMHI [11]
Verkhoyansk, Sakha Republic, Russia
Climate chart (explanation)
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Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Pogoda.ru.net
Mohe, Heilongjiang, China
Climate chart (explanation)
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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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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SHMI [15]
Östersund, Sweden
Climate chart (explanation)
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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

Tundra Biome where plant growth is hindered by cold temperatures

In physical geography, tundra is a type of biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sámi word тӯндар meaning "uplands", "treeless mountain tract". Tundra vegetation is composed of dwarf shrubs, sedges, grasses, mosses, and lichens. Scattered trees grow in some tundra regions. The ecotone between the tundra and the forest is known as the tree line or timberline. The tundra soil is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.

Polar climate

The polar climate regions are characterized by a lack of warm summers. Every month in a polar climate has an average temperature of less than 10 °C (50 °F). Regions with polar climate cover more than 20% of the Earth's area. Most of these regions are far from the equator, and in this case, winter days are extremely short and summer days are extremely long. A polar climate consists of cool summers and very cold winters, which results in treeless tundra, glaciers, or a permanent or semi-permanent layer of ice.

Temperate climate Main climate class

In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the year and more distinct seasonal changes compared to tropical climates, where such variations are often small.

Desert climate Arid climate subtype in the Köppen climate classification system

The desert climate or arid climate, is a climate which there is an excess of evaporation over precipitation. The typically bald, rocky, or sandy surfaces in desert climates hold little moisture and evaporate the little rainfall they receive. Covering 14.2% of earth's land area, hot deserts are the most common type of climate on earth after polar climate.

Continental climate

Continental climates often have a significant annual variation in temperature. They tend to occur in the middle latitudes, where prevailing winds blow overland, and temperatures are not moderated by bodies of water such as oceans or seas. Continental climates occur mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, which has the kind of large landmasses on temperate latitudes required for this type of climate to develop. Most of northern and northeastern China, eastern and southeastern Europe, Western and north western Iran, central and southeastern Canada, and the central and northeastern United States have this type of climate.

Mediterranean climate Type of climate

A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western sides of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends northwards during the summer and migrates south during the winter due to increasing north–south temperature differences.

Köppen climate classification Climate classification system

The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by German-Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, the climatologist Rudolf Geiger (1894-1981) introduced some changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes called the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

Oceanic climate

An oceanic climate, also known as a maritime climate, marine climate is the Köppen classification of climate typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, and generally features mild summers and cool but not cold winters, with a relatively narrow annual temperature range and few extremes of temperature. Oceanic climate is found both in the temperate and subtropical areas, in Western Europe, parts of central and Southern Africa, North America, South America as well as part of Australia and New Zealand.

Subarctic

The subarctic zone is a region in the Northern Hemisphere immediately south of the true Arctic and covering much of Alaska, Canada, Iceland, the north of Scandinavia, Siberia, the Shetland Islands, and the Cairngorms. Generally, subarctic regions fall between 50°N and 70°N latitude, depending on local climates. Precipitation is low, and vegetation is characteristic of the taiga.

Humid continental climate Category in the Köppen climate classification system

A humid continental climate is a climatic region defined by Russo-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900, typified by four distinct seasons and large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters. Precipitation is usually distributed throughout the year. The definition of this climate regarding temperature is as follows: the mean temperature of the coldest month must be below 0 °C (32.0 °F) or −3 °C (26.6 °F) and there must be at least four months whose mean temperatures are at or above 10 °C (50 °F). In addition, the location in question must not be semi-arid or arid. The Dfb, Dwb, and Dsb subtypes are also known as hemiboreal.

Climate of Scotland Overview of the climate of Scotland

The climate of Scotland is mostly temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable, but rarely extreme. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and given its northerly latitude it is much warmer than areas on similar latitudes, for example Kamchatka in Russia or Labrador in Canada—where the sea freezes over in winter or Fort McMurray, Canada—where −35 °C (−31 °F) is not uncommon during winter. Scots sometimes describe weather which is grey and gloomy using the Scots language word dreich.

Climate of Australia Overview of the climate of Australia

Australia's climate is governed mostly by its size and by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt. This moves north-west and north-east with the seasons. The climate is variable, with frequent droughts lasting several seasons, thought to be caused in part by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Australia has a wide variety of climates due to its large geographical size. The largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid. Only the south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate, varying between grasslands and desert. Australia holds many heat-related records: the continent has the hottest extended region year-round, the areas with the hottest summer climate, and the highest sunshine duration.

Climate of Alaska Overview of the climate of the U.S. state of Alaska

The climate of Alaska is determined by average temperatures and precipitation received statewide over many years. The extratropical storm track runs along the Aleutian Island chain, across the Alaska Peninsula, and along the coastal area of the Gulf of Alaska which exposes these parts of the state to a large majority of the storms crossing the North Pacific. The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is a mid-latitude oceanic climate, in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate in the northern parts. The climate in Southcentral Alaska is a subarctic climate due to its short, cool summers. The climate of the interior of Alaska is best described as extreme and is the best example of a true subarctic climate, as the highest and lowest recorded temperatures in Alaska have both occurred in the interior. The climate in the extreme north of Alaska is an Arctic climate with long, cold winters, and cool summers where snow is possible year-round.

Climate of the United States Varies due to changes in latitude, and a range of geographic features

The climate of the United States varies due to changes in latitude, and a range of geographic features, including mountains and deserts. Generally, on the mainland, the climate of the U.S. becomes warmer the further south one travels, and drier the further west, until one reaches the West Coast.

Climate of Chile

The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalizations difficult. According to the Köppen system, Chile within its borders hosts at least seven major climatic subtypes, ranging from low desert in the north, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and southeast, tropical rainforest in Easter Island, Oceanic in the south and Mediterranean climate in central Chile. There are four seasons in most of the country: summer, autumn, winter, and spring.

Humid subtropical climate Transitional climatic zone

A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. It is also known as warm temperate climate.

Climate of Manitoba

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.

Climate of Spain 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. Five main climatic zones can be distinguished, according to the country's Köppen-Geiger climate classification and orographic conditions:

Trewartha climate classification Method of classifying the worlds climates

The Trewartha climate classification 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.

Climatic regions of Argentina

Due to its vast size and range of altitudes, Argentina possesses a wide variety of climatic regions, ranging from the hot subtropical region in the north to the cold subantarctic in the far south. Lying between those is the Pampas region, featuring a mild and humid climate. Many regions have different, often contrasting, microclimates. In general, Argentina has four main climate types: warm, moderate, arid, and cold in which the relief features, and the latitudinal extent of the country, determine the different varieties within the main climate types.

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