New article published!

Air temperature in Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and Vaygach Island from 1832 to 1920 in the light of early instrumental data 

Rajmund Przybylak & Przemysław Wyszyński, 


In this article, the results of an investigation into the air temperature conditions in Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and Vaygach Island (NZR) from 1832 to 1920, on the basis of all available early instrumental data gathered during exploratory and scientific expeditions, are presented. Traditional analysis based on mean monthly data was supplemented by an approach less popular in the scientific literature, i.e. the additional use of daily data. Moreover, the daily data used were not limited only to mean daily air temperature, but include also maximum daily temperature, minimum daily temperature and diurnal temperature range. Such rich sets of data allowed for more comprehensive and precise recognition of air temperature conditions in the NZR. Based on these kinds of daily data, it was also possible to calculate the number of so-called ‘characteristic days’ (i.e. the number of days with temperatures exceeding specified thresholds) and day-to-day temperature variability and, for the first time, to determine different characteristics of thermal seasons (duration, onset and end dates) according to Baranowski’s (1968) proposition. The results were compared with contemporary temperature conditions (1981–2010) to estimate the range of their changes between historical and present times.

Analysis reveals that in 1832–1920, the NZR was markedly colder than today in all seasons. Coldest was autumn (on average by ca 5 °C), and least – summer (by 1.6 °C). Mean annual air temperature was colder than today by about 3 °C. The majority of mean monthly air temperatures in historical times lie within two standard deviations from the modern mean. This means that values of air temperature in historical times lie within the range of contemporary air temperature variability. Different air temperature characteristics calculated on the basis of daily data for the NZR for historical/contemporary periods also confirm the occurrence of climate warming between the studied periods.

Arctic; air temperature; early instrumental data

Citation: Przybylak, R. and Wyszyński, P. (2017), Air temperature in Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and Vaygach Island from 1832 to 1920 in the light of early instrumental data. Int. J. Climatol. 37: 3491-3508. doi: 10.1002/joc.4934 

Version of Record online: 28 NOV 2016



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New article published!

Air temperature variations and gradients along the coast and fjords of western Spitsbergen

Herdis M. Gjelten, Øyvind Nordli, Ketil Isaksen, Eirik J. Førland, Pavel N. Sviashchennikov, Przemyslaw Wyszynski, Uliana V. Prokhorova, Rajmund Przybylak, Boris V. Ivanov & Alexandra V. Urazgildeeva


Daily temperature measurements from six meteorological stations along the coast and fjords of western Spitsbergen have been digitized and quality controlled in a Norwegian, Russian and Polish collaboration. Complete daily data series have been reconstructed back to 1948 for all of the stations. One of the station’s monthly temperature series has previously been extended back to 1898 and is included in this study. The long-term series show large temperature variability on western Spitsbergen with colder periods in the 1910s and 1960s and warmer periods in the 1930s, 1950s and in the 21st century. The most recent years are the warmest ones in the instrumental records. There is a positive and statistically significant trend in the annual times series for all of the stations; however, the strongest warming is seen in winter and spring. For the period 1979–2015, the linear trends range from 1.0 to 1.3°C/decade for the annual series and from 2.0 to 2.3°C/decade in winter. Threshold statistics demonstrate a decrease in the number of cold days per year and an increase in the number of warm days. A decreasing inter-annual variability is observed. In winter, spring and autumn, the stations in the northernmost areas of west Spitsbergen and in the innermost parts of Isfjorden are the coldest ones. In summer, however, the southernmost station is the coldest one.

Svalbard; Arctic; trends; development; warming; temperature changes.

Citation: Polar Research 2016, 35, 29878,

Copyright: © 2016 H.M. Gjelten et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published: 29 July 2016


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ASSW 2016

Arctic Science Summit Week is the annual gathering of international scientists and policymakers who advance Arctic research. Through separate but related meetings and events, the Summit provides opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science.

The ASSW 2016 was held in Fairbanks (Alaska, US) on March 12-18, 2016 and included the 3rd Biennial Arctic Observing Summit (AOS 2016)

Our contribution to the ASSW and AOS 2016:


Przemysław Wyszyński¹,  Daniel Klaus²,  Klaus Dethloff²,  Rajmund Przybylak¹,  Annette Rinke² and Dörthe Handorf²

¹ – Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland

² – Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam, Germany


The HIRHAM5 regional climate model, developed at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), with its pan-Arctic domain (including most areas north of 60N) was initialized and run over the time period from January 1, 1915 to December 31, 1940 with 6-hourly “NOAA-CIRES Twentieth Century Global Reanalysis Version 2” (20CRv2) forcing at the lateral boundaries. Sea-ice concentration and sea-surface temperature were prescribed based on daily 20CRv2 fields. Historical surface-based observations for the Arctic were collected and transcribed by Nicolaus Copernicus University (NCU) within various data-retrieval projects (e.g. AWAKE, AWAKE-2, ArcRu).  With the aid of the 6-hourly HIRHAM5 model output, 20CRv2 reanalysis data, and surface-based observations carried out at Franz Josef Land stations, e.g. Tikhaya Bay (52.8E, 80.32N), the reproducibility of the early Arctic warming has been checked. Both the model and reanalysis have been evaluated by comparison with the measured sea level pressure, 2m air temperature, 2m specific humidity, and 10m wind speed. More importantly, the vertical baroclinic structure of the atmosphere has been analyzed by use of radiosonde data that have been acquired in the framework of ERA-CLIM.  Finally, the upgraded Twentieth Century Global Reanalysis dataset (20CRv2c), has been also taken into account. The latter was improved not only by assimilating additional surface pressure data (e.g. from Teplitz Bay 1899-1900, provided by NCU) but also by using the Centennial Observation-Based Estimates of SST version 2 (COBE-SST2) instead of the Hadley Centre Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature data set (HadISST1.1) to prescribe sea-surface temperature and sea-ice concentration. It can be expected that HIRHAM5 performs equally well as the 20CRv2 data, but it is unclear whether the model is even able to reproduce the station observations with the same quality as the improved 20CRv2c (corrected 20CRv2) reanalysis data. If the model has the skill to perform comparably or even better than 20CRv2c this might give evidence of a more realistic simulation of Arctic clouds, which will be checked as well.  Acknowledgements: The research work was supported by a grant funded by the National Science Centre by decision No. DEC-2012/07/B/ST10/04002.

Moreover Przemek attended the meeting of the Atmospheric Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)

AWG group picture_ASSW_2016

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ArcRu FrostByte

This video is part of a larger collection of FrostBytes. Soundbytes of “cool” research a collaborative project between the Climate and Cryosphere Project (CliC) and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS).

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by | May 18, 2015 · 12:28 PM

ASSW 2015

The Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) is the annual gathering of the international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. The purpose of the summit is to provide opportunities for coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science.
The summit attracts scientists, students, policy makers and other
professionals from all over the world.

The ASSW 2015 was held in Toyama (Japan) on April 23-30, 2015 and included the Fourth International Symposium on the Arctic Research (ISAR-4) and the Third International Conference on the Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III)

“Conference Statement” can be found by clicking here.

Our contribution to the ASSW 2015:


Ref# A02-P01

Ref# A02-P02

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New article published!

Variability of humidity conditions in the Arctic during the first International Polar Year, 1882-83

Przemysław Wyszyński & Rajmund Przybylak

Of all the early instrumental data for the Arctic, the meteorological data gathered during the first International Polar Year, in 1882–83 (IPY-1), are the best in terms of coverage, quality and resolution. Research carried out during IPY-1 scientific expeditions brought a significant contribution to the development of hygrometry in polar regions at the end of the 19th century. The present paper gives a detailed analysis of a unique series of humidity measurements that were carried out during IPY-1 at hourly resolutions at nine meteorological stations, relatively evenly distributed in the High Arctic. It gives an overall view of the humidity conditions prevalent in the Arctic at that time. The results show that the spatial distribution of atmospheric water vapour pressure (e) and relative humidity (RH) in the Arctic during IPY-1 was similar to the present. In the annual course the highest values of e were noted in July and August, while the lowest occurred in the cold half of the year. In comparison to present-day conditions (1961–1990), the mean values of RH in the IPY-1 period (September 1882 to July 1883) were higher by 2.4–5.6%. Most of the changes observed between historical and modern RH values are not significant. The majority of historical daily RH values lie between a distance of less than two standard deviations from current long-term monthly means.

Humidity conditions; Arctic; early instrumental period; historical climatology.

(Published: 8 September 2014)

Polar Research 2014. © 2014 P. Wyszyński & R. Przybylak. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Citation: Polar Research 2014, 33, 23896,



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More data transcribed! Franz Josef Land Expedition 1881-1882 of the ‘Eira’ under the leadership of Leigh Smith.

Leigh Smith went ashore near Cape Flora, and then tried to find a path eastwards in the hope of locating any traces of the lost Jeannette expedition. The Jeannette had been crushed by the ice just as Eira was departing Peterhead for the 1881 expedition, and resolving the fate of the men of the Jeannette was very much on Leigh Smith’s mind as he explored the islands of Franz Josef Land. Finding the way blocked by ice, Eira continued to be moored to the fast ice east of Cape Flora, bows facing westwards, while Neale and Leigh Smith occupied several Days in scouring the surrounding cliffs for fossils and plant specimens and the crew dredged the waters off the cape to bring up samples from the bottom sediments. The weather was calm, but there were definite hints of impending disaster. The captain’s log on Friday, August 19th, notes the “pack ice close round the ship.” (Cappelloti  2013, p. 182)


ObrazObraz (2)



Capelotti P.J. 2013   Shipwreck at Cape Flora [electronic resource] : the expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England’s forgotten Arctic explorer. Northern lights series, 1925-2943 ; 16. University of Calgary Press.

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Saint Anna – new source with meteorological data found in Murmansk

The Philomel-class gunvessel HMS Newport was launched in England in 1867. Having become the first ship to pass through the Suez Canal, she was sold in 1881 and renamed Pandora II. She was purchased again in about 1890 and renamed Blencathra, taking part in expeditions to the north coast of Russia. She was bought in 1912 by Georgy Brusilov for use in his ill-fated 1912 Arctic expedition to explore the Northern Sea Route, and was named Svyataya Anna (Russian: Святая Анна), after Saint Anne. The ship became firmly trapped in ice; only two members of the expedition, Valerian Albanov and Alexander Konrad, survived. The ship has never been found.

sw AnnaDSCN2335Mapka_św_Anna

All data were transcribed in our department.

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Hard but engaging work! Preliminary archival research in Murmansk.

Karina and Przemek is looking for new available sources with meteorological data in the Murmansk State Regional Universal Scientific Library (Мурманская государственная областная универсальная научная библиотека)

DSCN2670   DSCN2667         DSCN1466   DSCN1465

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XII International scientific conference «Integrated Studies of Spitsbergen Nature and Offshore» (6-8 November 2014, Murmansk)


foto Vladimir Sharin

Participants of the conference


Sources of meteorological data for the area of the Barents and Kara Seas in the early instrumental period

Tomasz Strzyżewski , Przemysław Wyszyński and Rajmund Przybylak

[in:] Complex investigations of the Svalbard and Offshore Nature: Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference (Murmansk, 6-8 November 2014). Moscow: GEOS, 2014: 363-364.

One of the oldest meteorological data for Novaya Zemlya and surrounding seas come from exploratory and scientific yacht expeditions. A large part of these boats sailed from Norway. In the Regional State Archives in Stavanger, which is a part of the National Archives of Norway, logbooks were found containing series of meteorological data, such as air temperature, water temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and its direction. Data from some yachts were earlier included into the ICOADS (International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set) database. It was necessary to compare those logbooks and the ICOADS data. As a result of the comparison, only the data thad had not been included in the ICOADS were selected for digitization. The digitization process consisted of two steps. The first step was to copy information about the yachts’ positions from the logbooks, in an appropriate format,  and then data for the area of ​​32-68°E and 68-80°N were only selected. GIS tools were used for this purpose. The second step of digitization was to assign the meteorological data to the yachts’ positions for the selected area. The transcribed data were also verified by merging together metadata from the ICOADS with the data appearing in the original logbooks. In this way, a verified database of uniform structure was established and temporarily named Marine Early Instrumental Dataset for the Arctic (MEIDA).

All data are presented in a grid format. The analysed area was divided into 66 grids with a spatial resolution of 2×4 degrees. The distribution of daily positions of the yachts and grid borders is shown in Figure 1. In many cases it was necessary to introduce longitudinal corrections of the yachts’ positions. During historical measurements different scales of temperature were used. Therefore,  all temperature data in the database were converted to Celsius degrees. In general, the air temperature was measured six times a day (at 04.00, 08.00, 12.00, 16.00, 20.00, and 00.00 local time). In total, the database contains 3789 daily means of air temperature for the years 1867-1912. The data covered mainly the warm part of the year (from May to September). Most of the meteorological measurements carried out on 53 yachts during 67 expeditions were taken in June (881) and the fewest of them in September (291).

The main objective of the present paper is to roughly describe air temperature conditions in Novaya Zemlya and surrounding seas from 1867 to 1912 on the basis of all available early instrumental data gathered during both exploratory and scientific expeditions. Having obtained this information, the results will be compared with contemporary climatic conditions (1981-2010) to estimate the range of air temperature changes between historical and present times.

poster_murmańsk - niska rozdzielczość


Variability of the Russian Arctic and Subarctic climate in the last three hundred years. Data recovery project.

Przemysław Wyszyński, Tomasz Strzyżewski and Rajmund Przybylak

[in:] Complex investigations of the Svalbard and Offshore Nature: Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference (Murmansk, 6-8 November 2014). Moscow: GEOS, 2014: 366-364.

According to climatic models, in the next few dozen years, the biggest changes in climatic conditions (anthropogenic warming) should occur in the polar regions. Models are based mainly on the gridded and reanalysis (retrospective analysis) data, which are in turn based on the input measured data from the 20th century, when the Arctic was in the ‘warm’ state. Moreover, studies based on the proxy data suggest that thermal conditions in the Arctic were very cool in the past centuries. Information from reanalysis and proxy data stand in non-compliance with the latest reconstructions that use the early instrumental data, which indicate that climate changes in the historical period, governed mainly by natural factors, did not exceed the range of the variation observed today. Therefore, what is the true variability of the climate and direction of its changes in the polar regions? We believe that any early instrumental data and descriptive records reflect in more accurate way the real weather conditions in a more accurate way.

The purpose of this project entitled „Variability of the Russian Arctic and Subarctic climate in the last three hundred years” is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of spatial and temporal climatic conditions in the Russian Arctic and Subarctic during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries on the basis of early instrumental measurements and descriptive records of weather conditions, in terms of their use for the assessment of climate changes between historical and contemporary periods.

It is expected that also in this respect the variability of the particular meteorological elements (air temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, humidity) in the 18th and 19th centuries will not exceed the variability observed today. The research results will be useful to improve existing reanalysis and climatic models.

A current significant warming of the Arctic is a fact. However, we do not know how its ecosystem will behave in the future. There are too many feedbacks in the Earth climate system which are very difficult to model. Furthermore, the existing General Circulation Models (GCM) are often based on input gridded data that are burdened with a considerable error, especially as regards high-latitude areas. Therefore, research undertaken on climate reconstructions based on early instrumental data or descriptive records is becoming increasingly important.

In the Arctic, the regular instrumental meteorological observations until 1920 were very rare. Only 5 Greenland stations and Malye Karmakuly on Novaya Zemla have long records of meteorological data that started in the second half of the 19th century (Przybylak et al. 2010). Therefore, all available data before 1920 are relevant to assess the fluctuations and changes of the Arctic climate. This fact has encouraged many researchers to undertake  ‘data retrieval’ from the early instrumental period for the Arctic and Subarctic. The majority of the research work undertaken up to now have been directed towards the reconstruction of the air temperature and atmospheric pressure in the Atlantic and American regions of the Arctic. The historical source materials (diaries of expeditions, logbooks, etc.) were pointed out as a very useful source of data in the reconstruction of the Russian Arctic climate (Klimenko and Astrina 2006). The reconstruction of the air temperature back to 1435 based on early instrumental and dendrochronological data were made by Klimenko (2008, 2010). However, the scope of his work was narrowed only to the European part of the Russian Arctic and Subarctic. So far, no detailed research based on early instrumental data has been carried out concerning other meteorological elements for the entire area of the Siberian Arctic.

Very good results have been recently obtained in the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project, (20CR, Compo et al. 2011) a reconstruction of thermal, precipitation and many other fields of meteorological variables based on described surface pressure fields. The 20CR dataset provides meteorological variables from 1871 to the present at 6 hourly temporal and 2° spatial resolutions. Therefore, it is possible to study not only the long-term trends, but also the short-term extreme events such as hurricanes (Brönnimann et al. 2012).

The quality of 20CR reanalysis and gridded reconstructions depends on the availability and quality of raw pressure data assimilated (ensemble Kalman filter, Compo et al. 2006) into a model. Unfortunately, very little information about atmospheric pressure from the ‘high’ Arctic, especially the Russian Arctic (Fig. 1), collected during the nineteenth-century polar expeditions, were assimilated into the second version of the 20CR.


Temporal distribution of the atmospheric pressure observations in the climatic regions of the Arctic from 1801 to 1920 (Przybylak et. al. 2012, modified)

Temporal distribution of the atmospheric pressure observations in the climatic regions of the  Arctic from 1801 to 1920 (Przybylak et. al. 2012, modified)

Validations of the 20CR conducted for the area of the Arctic (Brönnimann et al. 2012, Przybylak et al. 2012) confirmed the presence of considerable errors (Compo et al. 2011) in 20CR for high latitudes in the historical periods.

Recently, a large quantity of pressure data digitized at the NCU Department of Climatology within the ACEIP (History of the Arctic Climate in the 19th Century and the Beginning of the 20th Century based on Early Instrumental Data) and AWAKE (Arctic Climate and Environment of the Nordic Seas and the Svalbard-Greenland Area) projects, have been incorporated into the 3rd version of the International Surface Pressure Databank (ISPD, Yin et al. 2008), and will be used in the new version of the 20CR.

In the scientific community there is a constantly reiterated call for further exploration and recovery of the historical meteorological data for the Arctic. Obtaining new reliable data for the Russian part of the Arctic under the proposed project will be important to achieve these intentions. The proposed research presented at the latest 6th ACRE (Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth, to learn more about ACRE initiative see Allan et al. 2011) Workshop – Applications of Reanalysis Products (18–20 November 2013, Lisbon, Portugal) and IASC (The International Arctic Science Committee) workshop on Data Rescue, Citizen-Science and Collaborative Research (11th & 12th November 2013, Reykjavik, Iceland) were met with an enthusiastic reception of the scientists working in the field of historical climatology and reanalyses.

Our intention is to improve the next version of the 20CR and develop SIRCA (Sparse Input Reanalysis for Climate Applications). The high temporal resolution of the 20CR enables us to make comparisons of extreme weather situations (measured or described in the logbooks and diaries of the polar expeditions) with the data presented in the 20CR.


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