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TEMPERATURES IN THE ARCTIC. Temperatures in the Arctic, as one might expect, are very cold most of the year. But contrary to common belief, the interior areas of Siberia, northern Canada, and Alaska have pleasantly warm summers with many hours of sunshine each day. There are large differences in temperature between the interior and coastal areas.

In the interior during the summer days, temperatures climb to the mid 60s or low 70s and frequently rise to the high 70s or low 80s, occa-sionally even into the 90s. Fort Yukon, Alaska, which is just north of the Arctic Circle, has recorded an extreme high temperature of 100F, while Verkhoyansk in north central Siberia has recorded 94F.

During the winter, the interior areas of Siberia, northern Canada, and Alaska act as a source region for the cold arctic air that frequently moves southward into the middle latitudes. The coldest temperatures on record over the Northern Hemisphere have been established in Siberia. In the northern areas of the interior regions, temperatures are usually well below zero dur-ing the winter months. In fact, during these long periods of darkness and near darkness, the temperature normally falls to 20F or 30F, and in some isolated areas the normal daily min-imum temperature may drop to 40F. In north central Siberia the normal minimum daily temper-ature in the winter is between 45F and 55F. The arctic coastal regions, which include the Canadian Archipelago, are characterized by relatively cool, short summers. During the sum-mer months the temperatures normally climb to the 40s or low 50s and occasionally reach the 60s. There is almost no growing season along the coasts, and the temperatures may fall below freez-ing during all months of the year. At Point Bar-row, Alaska, the minimum temperature rises above freezing on no more than about 42 days a year.

Over the Arctic Ocean, the temperatures are very similar to those experienced along the coast; however, the summer temperatures are somewhat lower.

Winter temperatures along the Arctic coast are very low but not nearly as low as those observed in certain interior areas. Only on rare occasions does the temperature climb to above freezing dur-ing the winter months. The coldest readings for these coastal areas range between 60 and 70F.

These figures may seem surprising, since at first one might think that the temperatures near the North Pole would be lower than those over the northern continental interiors. Actually the flow of heat from the water under the ice has a moderating effect upon the air temperature along the coast.

CLOUDINESS. Cloudiness over the Arctic is at a minimum during the winter and spring and at a maximum during the summer and fall, again due to the low-moisture capacity of cold air. The average number of cloudy days for the two 6-month periods on climatic charts shows a general decrease in cloudiness in the entire arctic area during the winter months. The greatest seasonal variation is found in the interior, and the least is found along the coasts.

During the warm summer afternoons in the interior regions, scattered cumulus form and occasionally develop into thunderstorms. The thunderstorms are normally widely scattered and seldom form continuous lines. Along the arctic coast and over the Arctic Ocean, thunderstorms occur infrequently. Although tornadoes have been observed near the Arctic Circle, their occurrence is extremely rare. In these areas, summers are quite cloudy, with stratiform clouds predominating. 

Seasonal changes in cloudiness take place quite rapidly. Winters are characterized by extensive cloudiness in the coastal regions. These clouds are associated with migratory lows and generally disperse inland as the systems lose their moisture.

WINDS. Wind speeds are generally light in the continental arctic interior throughout the year. The strongest winds in the interior normally occur during the summer and fall. During the winter, the interior continental regions are areas of strong anticyclonic activity that produce only light surface winds.

Strong winds occur more frequently along the arctic coast than in the continental interiors. The frequency with which these high winds occur in coastal areas is greater in the fall and winter than in the summer. These winds frequently cause blowing snow.

Very strong wind speeds have been observed at many arctic coastal stations. Strong winds are infrequent over the ice pack, but the wind blows almost continuously because there are no natural barriers (such as hills and mountains) to retard the wind flow. As a result, the combination of wind speed and low temperatures produces equivalent wind chill temperatures that are ex-treme and severely limit outdoor human activity.

PRECIPITATION. Precipitation amounts are small, varying from 5 to 15 inches annually in the continental interior and 3 to 7 inches along the arctic coastal area and over the ice pack. The climate over the Arctic Ocean and adjoining coastal areas is as dry as some of the desert regions of the mid-latitudes. Most of the annual precipita-tion falls as snow on the Arctic Ocean and adja-cent coastal areas and ice caps. On the other hand, most of the annual precipitation falls as rain over the interior.

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