85th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 11 January 2005
Climate lessons from the first International Polar Year 1881-83
Kevin R. Wood, NOAA/PMEL and JISAO/U of Washington, Seattle, WA; and J. E. Overland
Records from the first International Polar Year(IPY-1) are singularly valuable as they were the first coordinated synoptic observations from 15 Arctic-wide locations, and they also provide a historical context for 20th century records, as most of the stations were located near inhabited settlements such as Point Barrow Alaska, Kautokeino in Norway, and Labrador in Canada. These records reflect local conditions as they were experienced by the people who were there, and generally include observations ranging from hourly meteorological measurements to the arrival of the spring melt and the changing appearance of various plants and animals with the progression of the seasons. We found that monthly mean surface air temperatures at IPY-1 stations are generally within the limits of recent climatology and are consistent with AO/NAO driven patterns of regional variability. A strong warm anomaly was observed in Fennoscandia, while conditions in the Lena Delta were cold but within record limits. In the historical context, conditions represented out of phase behavior in temperature anomalies between different subregions of the Arctic, superimposed on an underlying century-scale warming trend. Observations recorded after the Krakatau eruption in 1883 show cooling effects, notably at Sodanklyš Finland where residents regarded the change as quite exceptional. The qualitative logs are particularly useful in validating climate information.

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