Long-term Observation of Surface Radiation

in the Arctic (AWIPEV Research Base in Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen)

Ny-Ålesund is situated  78.9° N north of the arctic circle. During the polar night from 24. october to 18. february, sun doesn't appear, while there is no sun set during the polar day from 8. march to 24. august. This shows the radiation budget.



Climate Change and Radiation

The shortwave solar radiation and its reflection at the Earth's surface, as well as the longwave thermal radiation emitted by Earth and its downward component emitted by the atmosphere add up to the radiation budget of the Earth-atmosphere system. The radiation budget plays a fundamental role in determining the thermal conditions and the circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean, shaping the main characteristics of the Earth's climate.

The radiation budget components at the surface are measured in Ny-Ålesund since 1992. The quality controlled radiation measurements contribute to the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN)

Climate warming is manifested in the Ny-Ålesund radiation measurements e.g. looking at the albedo, the reflectivity of the surface which allows to tell if the the ground is covered by snow. It turns out that over the last two decades, the snow cover tends to vanish earlier during the year. Yet, there is no linear correlation between snow cover and temperature, since also the amount and timing of precipitation has to be taken into account.


Surface radiation data since 1 August 1992 are archived in the Pangaea Database. The data are freely available after registering, using search term "Basic and other measurements of radiation at station Ny-Ålesund”. Please acknowledge accordingly.