climate and daylight

Climate and daylight in Svalbard

Svalbard has an Arctic climate tempered by the warm North Atlantic Current, with average summer temperatures ranging from 4 to 6 °C (39.2 to 42.8 °F) and average winter temperatures ranging from −12 to −16 °C (10.4 and 3.2 °F). Due to the convergence of cold air from the north and mild, humid air from the south, weather conditions can change quickly and often, with occasional strong winds and wind chills of around -30 Celsius in the winter. Precipitation is frequent, but usually not heavy. Generally, the western part of Spitsbergen, where Longyearbyen is located, tends to be the warmest and wettest part of the Svalbard archipelago.

Temperatures and precipitation by month for Longyearbyen:

  Average high °C (°F)       Average low °C (°F)   Ave. precipitation mm (inches)
January:   -13.0 (8.6)      -20.0 (-4) 22.0 (0.866)
February:   -13.0 (8.6)   -21.0 (-5.8)  28.0 (1.102)
March:  -13.0 (8.6)   -20.0 (-4)  29.0 (1.142)
April:   -9.0 (15.8)     -16.0 (3.2) 16.0 (0.63)    
May:   -3.0 (26.6)   -7.0 (19.4)  13.0 (0.512)
June: 3.0 (37.4)  -1.0 (30.2)  18.0 (0.709)
July:    7.0 (44.6) 3.0 (37.4) 24.0 (0.945)
August:   6.0 (42.8) 2.0 (35.6) 30.0 (1.181)
September:   1.0 (33.8) -3.0 (26.6)  25.0 (0.984)
October:   -4.0 (24.8) -9.0 (15.8) 19.0 (0.748)
November:   -8.0 (17.6) -14.0 (6.8)    22.0 (0.866)
December: -11.0 (12.2)  -18.0 (-0.4)   25.0 (0.984)

Check daily weather forecasts for Longyearbyen.

Daylight hours
Owing to its location far north of the Arctic Circle, Svalbard experiences extreme contrasts in daylight hours between winter and summer. Svalbard is in polar night from October 28th to February 14th, with peak darkness from November 14th to January 29th.  This is an ideal time to view the northern lights, or aurora borealis, if conditions are right. (Do note that aurora sightings can never be guaranteed.)

In contrast, Svalbard is in polar day from April 19th to August 23rd, during which time the sun does not dip below the horizon—a polar phenomenon known as the “midnight sun”.

Time zone
Svalbard is in the Central European Time Zone. Central European Time (CET) is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1). Like in Norway, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is observed in Svalbard. In spring, the time shifts forward by one hour (GMT+2) and in autumn, the time shifts back by one hour to standard CET (GMT+1).

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