Changes in the Seasonal Cycle in the Circumpolar Arctic, 1976-95: Temperature and Precipitation


  • Paul H. Whitfield
  • Alexander W. Hall
  • Alex J. Cannon



k-means clustering, spatial patterns, cohesion, temperature, precipitation, Arctic climate


The Arctic is one region where the effects of global climate change are expected to be easy to observe. This study identifies regions in the circumpolar Arctic that have experienced similar changes in the seasonal cycle of temperature and precipitation over recent decades. Data from Arctic and northern nations have been compiled to form a new data set of over 1200 circumpolar Arctic climate stations. Changes in the seasonal cycle between two decades (1976-85 and 1986-95) are examined for the 247 temperature and 555 precipitation stations that meet specific completeness criteria. Inter-decadal shifts are analyzed using 11-day averages of daily mean temperature and 5-day averages of total daily precipitation. Examined at time-steps finer than annual or monthly means, climatic variations in the region are not consistent either through the seasons or across space. Some areas have demonstrated recent increases in temperature or precipitation, while others have displayed decreases in these elements. Many areas reveal climatic shifts in specific periods of the year that contrast markedly with the trends observed in other periods and other places.