Arctic Climate


Arctic Climate

Temperature & Rainfall

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High (F) 24 26 23 30 38 45 50 49 43 35 30 26
Avg. Low (F) 14 13 13 21 29 34 38 38 35 27 21 17
Avg. Rainfall (Inches) 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.7 1.1 1.4 0.6 0.5 0.4
Avg. Daylight (Hours) 5.6 8.6 11.9 15.2 18.5 20.9 19.6 16.3 13 9.7 6.5 4.4

Note that the Arctic climate data referenced above is for Nuuk, Greenland.

Where is the Arctic?

The Arctic climate, classified as polar, is found in countries around the Arctic Ocean. This includes north Alaska, north Canada, coastal areas of Greenland, northern Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland) and Siberia in northern Russia. The main features of this climate are low amounts of precipitation yet prevalent fog, mild summers and very cold winters. This extreme climate produces the type of scenery known as the tundra.

Where to See Polar Bears?

Svalbard is the northern most point of Europe, sitting between Norway and the North Pole, and literally translated means “cold edge.” It is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears, the Aurora Borealis and the midnight sun – a full four months a year when the sun doesn’t once dip below the horizon. The capital city of Longyearbyen has a small community of around 2,000 people, offering a peaceful stay no matter what the time of year. June, July and August offer light and warmer temperatures, but if you want lots of light and snow, go between March and May.

Arctic Trips for Any Season

No matter what season you seek to travel in the Arctic, AdventureSmith Explorations has an extensive, curated collection of Arctic small ship cruises and wilderness trips to recommend. Learn more about our Arctic trips, or go direct to our Trip Finder to search by location and your travel dates.


Best Time to Visit?

When is the best time to visit the Arctic? From a wildlife, travel and comfort perspective, June, July and August are the ideal months when it is light and not as cold. The short summers see the land covered in heather, moss and arctic flowers. The frozen ground is known as permafrost, and the section that melts is known as the active layer. Plants do not grow high due to the strong winds and the permafrost preventing deep roots.

Broad Seasonal Variations

Great seasonal changes in the length of days and nights are experienced north of the Arctic Circle, with variations that range from 24 hours of constant daylight (“midnight sun”) or darkness at the Arctic Circle, to six months of daylight or darkness at the North Pole. However, because of the low angle of the sun above the horizon, insolation is minimal throughout the regions, even during the prolonged daylight period.

Seasickness in the Arctic

Arctic waters are relatively calm, with the exception of the Denmark Sea. However, bad weather can cause rough water, and everyone reacts differently to rough seas and even calm seas while on a Zodiac cruise, so please travel with motion sickness medicine. Read our tips to combat seasickness.

Arctic Winters & the Polar Night

Expedition ships often re-position from the Arctic to Antarctica during the North American winter, to take advantage of warmer Austral summer temperatures in the southern hemisphere, but a few ships stay to take advantage of skiing and Northern Lights cruises.

Winters in the tundra are very cold and dark; north of the Arctic Circle there are days when the sun does not rise. This phenomenon, called polar night, is not as dark as you would think though: there is a twilight and a weak daylight for a quarter of the day. Precipitation is very low during the winter as the cold temperatures reduce evaporation and the air can only hold very low amounts of water vapor. What little snow that falls does not melt, so the land is covered in snow and ice all winter.

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