Yes, it’s cold. But conditions in the Arctic vary quite a bit depending on the season, and many travelers are surprised by how tolerable they find it. Don't forget that, unlike at the planet's other pole, people have lived in certain parts of the Arctic Circle for thousands of years.
While the depths of winter are undoubtedly freezing, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be travelling during this time anyway. Research scientists aside, most travelers experience the Arctic during the summer months and temperatures during these Arctic summers frequently rise above freezing.
Summer runs from June to September and temperatures typically sit between 33 and 54°F (1 and 12°C) during this time, peaking in July. It’s not balmy, but it’s a far cry from winter, when the temperatures plummet to between 32 and -29°F (0 and -34°C).
All Intrepid's expeditions run on specially-designed vessels that will be toasty and warm inside no matter the conditions outside the portholes, so as long as you pack correctly for shore excursions, there's really no need to be overly concerned about the cold.
What's the weather like in Svalbard?
Temperatures on the west of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, which includes the settlements Longyerbyen and Calysobyen, average 36 to 41°F (2 to 5°C) during June, July and August. Temperatures can be a good 41°F (5°C) colder than these averages on Svalbard's eastern islands.
What's the weather like in Greenland?
Temperatures in central and southern Greenland are temperate by Arctic standards. Summer temperatures hover around 34 to 37°F (1 to 3°C) and don't drop substantially until around October when most expeditions have already left the region. Even in winter, temperatures usually won’t fall below -23°F(-10°C) in the south of Greenland. Northern settlements like Qaanaq experience similar summer temperatures but much colder winters, with temperatures that can drop as low as -4°F(-20°C) from December to February.
What's the weather like in the Russian High Arctic?
Conditions are severe in the Russian High Arctic. Even in July, temperatures on the archipelago hover around 32 to 37°F (0 to 3°C). A whopping 141 days of midnight sun every year mean landings can happen at any time of day in summer. As you can imagine, Franz Josef Land experiences brutally cold winters, with winter temperatures (November to February) averaging around -8°F (-22°C) and bottoming out around -40°F (-40°C).
Further south than Franz Josef Land, conditions in Novaya Zemlya make for slightly more pleasant landings during summer. Summer temperatures hover around the 41°F (5°C) mark, making for pleasant conditions for shore landings (especially if you’re hiking a little and working up a sweat).
What's the weather like on Baffin Island?
Canada's Baffin Island is significantly colder than many other parts of the Arctic with a similar latitude due to the presence of strong northerly winds. Even in the middle of summer, temperatures rarely climb above 41°F(5°C). Temperatures of -13°F (-25°C) are not uncommon in the winter months.
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