Arctic ClimateInfluences on Arctic Weather

Arctic weather is influenced by several factors, many of which are not found at lower latitudes.

  1. Continuous daylight at the height of summer followed by continuous darkness in the depths of winter. Combined with the sun's low height above the horizon, this leads to heavy radiative heat loss through much of the year;
  2. The presence of snow and sea ice on the surface for much of the year reflects much of the incoming shortwave solar radiation;
  3. Sea ice cover on the ocean limits the amount of available moisture that can be picked up and carried by the atmosphere. Cool surface air temperatures further limit the humidity; and
  4. There are relatively few mountains at high latitudes to obstruct atmospheric flow between midlatitudes and the Arctic. The areas of highest relief are Greenland, Ellesmere and Baffin Islands in Canada, the Brooks and Alaska ranges in Alaska, and the mountains of Scandinavia. Thus, weather is dominated by synoptic systems rather than mesoscale features.