The weather at The North Pole has been a subject of drastic alterations in the recent years. Being a climate change specialist’s favorite topic, mostly due to the fact it’s largely influenced by the anthropogenic factor, the Arctic offers specific meteorological conditions, which are unique for our planet. The weather can be briefly characterized by permanent sea and continental ice, dense cold through the whole year, and polar days, or nights, lasting for 6 months each.
Seasons in the polar ice cap
In the North Pole region, there are only 2 main seasons. The winters are about 9 months long, with temperatures averaging at -40C, reaching below -50C in some places. Most of the winter is dark and icy, as this time period coincides with the polar night. The summers last for just 3 months. Average temperatures during the summer range between -10C and 10C, with a tendency to increase in the future years. Springs and autumns are short and last for a couple of weeks between the main seasons.
Temperature climate of the North Pole
Most of the North Pole is covered by snow and ice, which reflect the sunrays back into space. This phenomenon is known as the “albedo effect”, and is one of the reasons for the low temperatures in the region. Another reason for it is the low angle of the solar light. That way, the Sun’s energy cannot be properly absorbed. Additionally, the lack of continental landmass prevents the North Pole from accumulating, or giving off heat fast enough. As a result, the ice pack is less cold during the winter than other areas of the Arctic region, like Siberia. On the other hand, the latter warms up faster during the summer, achieving higher temperatures, while the former can only reach about 0C average temperature.
The weather at North Pole is cold and dry. Humidity in the area is very low, because most of the sea is frozen, so there is not much water evaporation. Rainfalls are rare, with amounts comparable to the ones over Earth’s deserts. During the winter the skies are clear, with little to no cloud formations at all. Thawing processes occur shortly before summer, which brings snow and rainfalls over the North Pole. Occasional fogs can also be observed during April – May.
Winds and air over the North Pole
The air mass over the Pole is dense, cold and dry. Winds are predominanlty East or North-East. They are the direct result of the southwards air flow, deviated by Earth’s rotation. Average wind speed is between 4 – 6 meters per second through all seasons. Stronger winds occur during the winter, with increased cyclone activity and higher speeds. Respectively, the ones during summer time are milder, but more frequent.
Polar day cycle
Because Earth’s rotational axis is not perpendicular to the Sun, most areas of the planet receive uneven amounts of sunlight. The position of the North Pole means continuous daylight between March and September, and perpetual darkness for the rest of the year. This particularity of the Polar regions means a duration of 12 months for the whole day and night cycle. The equinoxes during March and September are the turning points of this cycle. During the solstices the Sun doesn’t cross the horizon at all: it doesn’t rise on December 21st and doesn’t set on June 21st. All this directly affects the climate: the weather is more dynamic during the daylight periods, but colder and drier without sunlight.
Things to consider when traveling to the North Pole
The selected time of the year will determine the most of what travelers can expect from their trip to the location. The amount of light, availability of dynamic weather, as well as potential snowfalls, all largely depend on the month when the event occurs. The harsh temperatures require sufficient preparation, and the low humidity means dehydration would be a major issue for humans passing through the area. Eye protection is needed when daylight is present – the intense light from the Sun is reflected by the snowy surface and can be detrimental to the eyesight.
The weather at North Pole is not favorable to human physiology. Extreme temperatures, relatively strong winds and dry air make survival in the area a challenge. Yet, the North polar ice cap offers better conditions than its southern counterpart. The region is one of the few to be disconnected from human civilization, therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for exploration.