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R. Przybylak
,
P. Wyszyn´ski
, and
A. Araz´ny

Abstract

A review of many studies published since the late 1920s reveals that the main driving mechanisms responsible for the early-twentieth-century Arctic warming (ETCAW) are not fully recognized. The main obstacle seems to be our limited knowledge about the climate of this period and some forcings. A deeper knowledge based on greater spatial and temporal resolution data is needed. The article provides new (or improved) knowledge about surface air temperature (SAT) conditions (including their extreme states) in the Arctic during the ETCAW. Daily and subdaily data have been used (mean daily air temperature, maximum and minimum daily temperature, and diurnal temperature range). These were taken from 10 individual years (selected from the period 1934–50) for six meteorological stations representing parts of five Arctic climatic regions. Standard SAT characteristics were analyzed (monthly, seasonal, and yearly means), as were rarely investigated aspects of SAT characteristics (e.g., number of characteristic days, day-to-day temperature variability, and the onset, end, and duration of thermal seasons). The results were compared with analogical calculations done for data taken from the contemporary Arctic warming (CAW) period (2007–16). The Arctic experienced warming between the ETCAW and the CAW. The magnitude of warming was greatest in the Pacific (2.7°C) and Canadian Arctic (1.9°C) regions. A shortening of winter and lengthening of summer were noted. Furthermore, the climate was also a little more continental (except the Russian Arctic) and less stable (greater day-to-day variability and diurnal temperature range) during the ETCAW than during the CAW.

Significance Statement

It is well established that human activity (particularly increased greenhouse gas emissions) is the primary driving mechanism of the recent dramatic warming in the Arctic. However, the causes of a similar warming here in the first half of the twentieth century remain uncertain. The limited knowledge about the climate of that period—which mainly results from the low resolution of data—is a significant obstacle to a definitive determination of the forcing mechanisms. Therefore, the main aim of our paper is to improve our understanding of specific aspects of weather and climate (including extremes) using long-term series of daily and subdaily data that have rarely been applied for this purpose. This new, more comprehensive knowledge about the historical Arctic climate should allow the scientific community (particularly climate modelers) to better validate both climate models and reanalysis products and, consequently, to more precisely identify the causes of the early-twentieth-century Arctic warming.

Open access
R. Przybylak
,
P. N. Svyashchennikov
,
J. Uscka-Kowalkowska
, and
P. Wyszyński

Abstract

The early twentieth-century warming (ETCW), defined as occurring within the period 1921–50, saw a clear increase in actinometric observations in the Arctic. Nevertheless, information on radiation balance and its components at that time is still very limited in availability, and therefore large discrepancies exist among estimates of total solar irradiance forcing. To eliminate these uncertainties, all available solar radiation data for the Arctic need to be collected and processed. Better knowledge about incoming solar radiation (direct, diffuse, and global) should allow for more reliable estimation of the magnitude of total solar irradiance forcing, which can help, in turn, to more precisely and correctly explain the reasons for the ETCW in the Arctic. The paper summarizes our research into the availability of solar radiation data for the Arctic. An important part of this work is its detailed inventory of data series (including metadata) for the period before the mid-twentieth century. Based on the most reliable data series, general solar conditions in the Arctic during the ETCW are described. The character of solar radiation changes between the ETCW and present times, in particular after 2000, is also analyzed. Average annual global solar radiation in the Russian Arctic during the ETCW was slightly greater than in the period 1964–90 (by about 1–2 W·m−2) and was markedly greater than in the period 2001–19 (by about 16 W·m−2). Our results also reveal that in the period 1920–2019 three phases of solar radiation changes can be distinguished: a brightening phase (1921–50), a stabilization phase (1951–93), and a dimming phase (after 2000).

Open access