Photo: Atle Staalesen

Ice cold winter on far northern coast, but nearby Arctic waters are record warm

Northern Russia and Scandinavia had the coldest January in years. Meanwhile, adjacent Arctic waters were up to 8 C° warmer than normal.
February 11, 2021


After the record-warm 2020, the new 2021 started with temperatures significantly lower than normal. According to the Russian meteorological service Roshydromet the month of January ranks among 15 coldest in monitoring history since 1891.

Temperature maps from the meteorologists show that major parts of northern Russia were between 2-6 C° colder than normal.


Temperature deviations in January 2021. Photo: Roshydromet


In parts of the region, temperatures dropped to extremes. In Yakutia and northern parts of the Krasnoyarsk region, meteorologists measured temperatures down to minus 60 C°.

Also Scandinavia experienced the chill. Norway had the coldest January in 10 years, the country’s meteorological service informs.

“The reason for the low temperatures is a high pressure over the Norwegian Sea and a low pressure over Russia that pushes cold air from Siberia towards Scandinavia,” meteorologist Martin Granerød says.


Temperature deviations, January 2021. Map by Roshydromet

However, while Arctic land territories were ice cold, the weather further north was extraordinary warm.

Practically the whole central part of the Arctic Ocean had temperatures far higher than normal for the season.

The biggest deviation from the norm was found in the archipelago of Franz Josef Land where temperatures were as much as 8 C° higher than normal.

Also northern parts of Canada saw record-high temperatures in January.

The Arctic heat is part over a clear and long-term trend. Over the last decades, parts of the Russian Arctic have been up to five degrees warmer than normal.

In fall 2020, the Russian peninsulas of Taymyr and Yamal for a long period were between 10-15 °C warmer than normal.

The year 2020 was the warmest year in Russia since measurements started 130 years ago.


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