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  • Subarctic climate

    Subarctic climate

    • Anchorage, Alaska, United States
      Climate chart ()
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: NOAA
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: NOAA
      Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
      Climate chart ()
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: Environment Canada
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: Environment Canada
      Moosonee, Ontario, Canada
      Climate chart ()
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
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      Source: Environment Canada
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: Environment Canada
      Samedan, Graubünden, Switzerland
      Climate chart ()
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      Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
      Precipitation totals in mm
      Source: MeteoSchweiz

      The subarctic climate (also called subpolar climate, subalpine climate, or boreal climate) is a climate characterised by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates. These climates represent Köppen climate classification Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd and Dsd. In very small areas at high altitudes around the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Alaska and other parts of the northwestern United States (Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and Idaho) the climate is classified as Dsc with a dry summer climate, such as in Seneca, Oregon.

      This type of climate offers some of the most extreme seasonal temperature variations found on the planet: in winter, temperatures can drop to −40 °C (−40 °F) and in summer, the temperature may exceed 30 °C (86 °F). However, the summers are short; no more than three months of the year (but at least one month) must have a 24-hour average temperature of at least 10 °C (50 °F) to fall into this category of climate and the coldest month should average below 0 °C (32 °F).

      With 5–7 consecutive months where the average temperature is below freezing, all moisture in the soil and subsoil freezes solidly to depths of many feet. Summer warmth is insufficient to thaw more than a few surface feet, so permafrost prevails under most areas not near the southern boundary of this climate zone. Seasonal thaw penetrates from 2 to 14 ft (0.61 to 4.27 m), depending on latitude, aspect, and type of ground. Some northern areas with subarctic climates located near oceans (southern Alaska, the northern fringe of Europe, Sakhalin Oblast and Kamchatka Oblast), have milder winters and no permafrost, and are more suited for farming unless precipitation is excessive. The frost-free season is very short, varying from about 45 to 100 days at most, and a freeze can occur during any month in many areas.



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