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Meteorological Data from the Russian Arctic, 1961-2000


This data set contains monthly means of meteorological observation data from Russian stations from 1961-2000 (for most stations). The Russian station observations were provided by Vladimir Radionov, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St. Petersburg, and include two-meter air temperature, sea level pressure, total and low cloud amount, precipitation, and relative humidity.

NSIDC strongly encourages you to register as a user of this data product. As a registered user, you will be notified of updates and corrections.

Citing These Data

National Snow and Ice Data Center. 2003. Meteorological data from the Russian Arctic, 1961-2000. Edited by V. Radionov and F. Fetterer. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Overview Table

Category Description
Data format ASCII text in Uniformat
Spatial coverage Data were collected from Russian stations, located between 59 deg 58 min N and 78 deg 04 min N, and 14 deg 15 min E and 179 deg 07 min E.
Temporal coverage Data range from January 1961 to December 2000.
File naming convention uni.[station_name].[station_id].dat
File size 60 KB to 65 KB. All data files combined total 3.3 MB
Parameters Two-meter air temperature, sea level pressure, total and low cloud amount, precipitation, relative humidity
Metadata access View metadata
Data access Data are available via FTP

Table of Contents

  1. Contacts
  2. Detailed Data Description
  3. Data Access and Related Collections
  4. Data Acquisition and Processing
  5. References and Related Publications
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Document Information

1. Contacts


Vladimir Radionov
Head of the Department of Meteorology
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
St. Petersburg, Russia

Florence Fetterer
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449

Technical Contact

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services

2. Detailed Data Description

Station List

For complete station information, see Table 1, Station Information and Table 2, Discrepancies Between WMO and AARI Station Information.


The station data from AARI have been reformatted to "uniformat." Uniformat files are ASCII files with columns for parameters described in the Table 3 below. Uniformat was developed to combine the synoptic and monthly meteorological data from the several sources on the Arctic Meteorology and Climate Atlas (Arctic Climatology Project, 2000) into a single format. The single format makes it easier to read and manipulate data from different sources.

Table 3. Uniformat File Description. (Note that only parameters 1,2,3,7,8,9,10,13,14,15, and 19 have data, other fields are filled with a value indicating "missing". These fields apply to data on the Arctic Meteorology and Climate Atlas).

Parameter Number Parameter
Columns Value for Missing Comments
1 WMO station number 0-4 99999
2 Year 5-9 Not Applicable  
3 Month 10-12 Not Applicable  
4 Day 13-15 -1 (-1 means monthly, not synoptic data)
5 Time 16-20 -1 (-1 means monthly, not synoptic data)
6 Position interpolation flag 21-22 9

Code to indicate position characteristic:

9: Missing. Used if either lat. or lon. is missing

1: Default. Means observed, fixed position

2: Linearly interpolated. Used only for North Pole drifting stations.

3: Rounded to nearest degree. Used for some western drifting station and Ice Patrol ship data.

4: Monthly mean position. Used only for monthly mean data from NP stations.

7 Latitude, decimal degrees North 23-28 99.99 This position is the position provided by AARI, not that provided for the station by WMO. Differences may occur.
8 Longitude, decimal degrees East 29-36 999.99 (0 - 360); This position is the position provided by AARI, not that provided for the station by WMO. Differences may occur.
9 Air temperature (°C) 37-43 999.99  
10 Sea level pressure (mbar) 44-50 9999.9  
11 Wind direction (deg.) 51-56 999.9  
12 Wind speed (m/s) 57-62 999.9  
13 Total cloud amount (tenths) 63-67 99.9 Visual estimates. Note that Russian drifting stations may have "11," meaning "10, with gaps."
14 Low cloud amount (tenths) 68-72 99.9 Visual estimates. Note that Russian drifting stations may have "11", meaning "10, with gaps."
15 Relative humidity (percent) 73-78 999.9  
16 Dew point (°C) 79-85 999.99  
17 Wet bulb temperature (°C) 86-92 999.99  
18 Vapor pressure (mbar) 93-99 9999.9  
19 Precipitation (millimeters) 100-106 -1.00 "Trace" precipitation is coded in uniformat files as 0.1 mm.
20 Soil or ice surface temperature (°C) 107-113 999.99
21 Sea surface temperature (°C) 114-120 999.99  
22 Station name 121-   Text field of varying length.

File Naming Convention

The naming convention for the uniformat data files is uni.[station_name].[station_id].dat.

File Size

The data files range between 60 KB and 65 KB. All data files combined total 3.3 MB.

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage and Resolution

The data range from 1 January 1961 through 31 December 2000.

Meteorological observation hours were changed several times within the period of record. From 1961 through 1965, observations were at 0100, 0700, 1300 and 1900 local solar time; since 1966, observations were at 0000, 0300, 0600, 0900, 1200, 1500, 1800 and 2100 hours Moscow Local Time.

Sample Data Record

The following data sample is from file uni.agata.23383.dat:

23383 1961 1 -1 -1 1 66.88 93.47 -40.3 1024.1 999.9 999.9 8.4 0.0 76 999.99 999.99 9999.9 32.0 999.99 999.99 agata
23383 1961 2 -1 -1 1 66.88 93.47 -31.9 1018.2 999.9 999.9 9.2 0.0 77 999.99 999.99 9999.9 28.0 999.99 999.99 agata
23383 1961 3 -1 -1 1 66.88 93.47 -15.2 1018.2 999.9 999.9 7.8 1.8 77 999.99 999.99 9999.9 25.0 999.99 999.99 agata
23383 1961 4 -1 -1 1 66.88 93.47 -8.6 1008.7 999.9 999.9 8.1 2.3 69 999.99 999.99 9999.9 34.0 999.99 999.99 agata

3. Data Access and Related Collections

Data Access

The data are available via FTP.

Related NSIDC Data Collections

Other Related Data Collections

4. Data Acquisition and Processing

These data were originally published in the Meteorological Monthly issues of the All-Russia Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information, (RIHMI), Obninsk. Data were digitized at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg. The stations and time period covered by this data set were chosen to make data available that were not already available (as of 2000) in the NOAA National Climatic Data Center’s Global Historical Climate Network or at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), Fairbanks, AK.

Average daily (from four observations per day for the period 1961-1965 and from eight observations per day since 1966) and monthly values of meteorological parameters were calculated from individual observations by the observer (a meteorologist) at each of the stations. The meteorologist calculated monthly mean from daily data as (d1 + d2 + ... + dn)/n, where n= 28,29,30 or 31 days. A monthly mean was not calculated if there were more than seven missing observations at the same observation time during the month (for example, 0000 or 0300).

Table 4 gives a description of the surface parameters and the accuracy of observations measured at the stations. When reviewing table 4, please refer to the Note on Precipitation section of this document. Meteorological observations were performed according to the Manual for Hydrometeorological Stations, Gidrometeoizdat, 1985 (translated from the Russian "Nastavlenie dlay gidrometeorologicheskih stantsy"). A standard meteorological site was 26 m by 26 m, and was located on relief typical of the area. It was more than 100 m distant from any bodies of water, and at a distance 20 times the height of any obstruction (such as trees or a building). Station and barometer elevations are presented in Table 6.

In the original data tables, some gaps occurred in the period of record and other gaps were introduced due to quality control. Quality control was performed at AARI using the methods outlined in Quality Control Methods.

Table 4. Meteorological parameters measured at the meteorological stations

Parameter Observation Observation method and accuracy
Air temperature Temperature, maximum, minimum (Temperature only in this data set) Measured by mercury thermometer placed in psychrometric box at a meteorological site. Measurement accuracy is equal to 0.1 °C.
Air pressure Pressure, pressure tendency (Pressure only in this data set) Measured by mercury barometer placed in stationary room at 50 to 60 cm height from floor (barometric cistern). Corrected record is written in hPa with accuracy up to 0.1 hPa. (1 mbar = 1hPa)
Air humidity Partial pressure of water vapor, relative humidity, moisture deficit (Relative humidity only in this data set) Calculated using records from dry-bulb and wet-bulb thermometers (in summer) and from dry thermometer and hair hygrometer (when temperature is below -10 °C). Calculation accuracy is 1 percent.
Precipitation Measurement of amount, duration period (within 24 hours), and type of precipitation two or four times within 24 hours (Measurement of amount only in this data set) Tretyakov precipitation gauge twice daily (0000 and 0600 hours local time) to an accuracy of 0.1 mm. [check this against Groisman paper]
Cloud cover Amount of total and low cloud, its form and type (Amount only in this data set). Cloud amount is given in tenths; cloud forms are defined by the international atlas of clouds; base height of low cloud border is defined visually or by IVO device with accuracy up to 50 m.

Quality Control Methods

No filtering or editing of the data took place at NSIDC. Plots showing the distribution of the data by month for each parameter at each station are available as pdf files in a single tarred file accessible via FTP.

The following documentation, provided by V. Radionov, describes general methods of quality control used at AARI.

Time series testing

Stage I:  Data that were not already in digital form were digitized from logbooks, bulletins, or charts. Quality control for monthly means was performed as follows:

  1. Each monthly mean (monthly means were calculated at each station by an observer) was evaluated based on the likelihood and consistency of individual parameter values. This excluded most large errors.
  2. For individual meteorological parameters, where the distribution is close to normal, statistical estimates of the mean and extremes can be used for testing. These parameters generally include pressure, air temperature, relative humidity, and surface temperature.
    • Grubbs' criterion (Grubbs, 1950) was used to detect individual extrema. If a point exceeded a threshold based on the mean, one may assume the hypothesis of over estimation. Points that exceeded plus or minus 2.5 standard deviations from the monthly mean were marked.
    • The modified criteria of Tietjen and Moore (1972) were sometimes used for testing outliers.

Values exceeding the thresholds were noted as questionable. As an additional quality control, a parameter may have been temporarily changed by interpolation of the tested parameter with observational data of this parameter across two adjacent intervals. Discrepancies between tested and interpolated parameter values were estimated as extreme deviations (Kolmogoroff deviation) and each evaluated by an expert, who made the ultimate decision. Additionally, all questionable observations were tested by an expert specialist from AARI who made the ultimate decision about the rejection of questionable values.

Stage II:  Testing during Stage I excluded crude errors. In Stage II, systematic errors connected with instrument function, improper operation, or with incorrect data processing were considered. These are errors that would not necessarily be routinely noticed.

Horizontal control between stations

Within a 40-year period, changes may appear in the climatic homogeneity of time series. These may result from changes in the meteorological station location, or in the station surroundings, and from natural climatic changes. The most common analysis methods of climatic homogeneity, the difference and ratio methods (Drozdov, 1989) are used in this test. This procedure makes it possible to identify shifts in parameter value. Other cases of climatic heterogeneity of temporal sets will not be identified during these threshold tests because it is impossible to distinguish the causes of heterogeneity without carrying out a sophisticated analysis. The data record of the 51 stations in this data set was tested by this method.

As in all preceding steps, an expert made the final decisions regarding quality control, including the advisability of testing observations at adjacent stations. Observations that passed all stages of the testing are included in this data set.

Note on Precipitation

Precipitation measurements in this data set were acquired using Tretyakov’s precipitation gauges. Tretyakov’s precipitation gauges replaced rain gauges with Nipher shields at most Russian stations before 1954. Rain gauges with Nipher shields were replaced in order to reduce errors caused by the blowing of solid precipitation out of the gauges during snowstorms. Nipher gauges record considerably less solid precipitation than do Tretyakov gauges. For this reason data acquired using Nipher shield gauges cannot be used with data acquired using Tretyakov gauges without adjustments to the data record (Groisman and Rankova, 2001).

Prior to 1966, data used to create monthly totals of precipitation values were uncorrected for wind, gauge type, or wetting. Beginning in 1966, data were corrected for wetting directly by observers at the stations. The wetting correction is 0.2 mm for liquid and mixed precipitation, and 0.1 mm for solid precipitation, for each individual measurement. It is theoretically possible to correct monthly totals of precipitation prior to 1966 for wetting if daily precipitation totals and air temperatures are known, but doing so is beyond the scope of this data set.

Measuring arctic precipitation accurately is difficult and these data records are known to have errors. Users of these data should first become familiar with error sources. We strongly suggest consulting Groisman and Rankova (2001) and references contained therein, and the documentation on gridded precipitation fields in Arctic Climatology Project (2000) for an introduction to precipitation measurement issues. Groisman and Rankova (2001) have information on adjusting the raw precipitation measurements in this data set so that pre- and post-1966 values are homogeneous.

Related NSIDC Data Collections

5. References and Related Publications

Arctic Climatology Project. 2000. Environmental Working Group arctic meteorology and climate atlas. Edited by F. Fetterer and V. Radionov. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center. CD-ROM.

Gidrometeoizdat. Nastavlenie dlay gidrometeorologicheskih stantsy (Manual for hydrometeorological stations and posts). 1985. Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad. 300 pp.

Groisman, P.Y and E.Y. Rankova. 2001. Precipitation trends over the Russian permafrost-free zone: removing the artifacts of pre-processing. International Journal of Climate 21: 657-678.

Grubbs, F.E. 1950. Sample criteria for testing outlying observations. Annals Of Mathematical Statistics 21 (1): 27-58.

Tietjen, G., and H. Moore. 1972. Some Grubb's type statistics for the detection of several outliers. Technometrics 14 (3): 583-597.


In addition, the following related document is available on NSIDC's Web site:

Document Description URL
NOAA at NSIDC's Precipitation Data Set Station Lists and Overlap Analysis Web page Provides an analysis of the overlap in station coverage for various precipitation data sets.


6. Acknowledgements

These data were made available through funding from the NOAA Environmental Services Data and Information Management (ESDIM) program, in cooperation with the National Geophysical Data Center. ESDIM project number 02-442E, Dave Clark, Principal Investigator. Distribution of the data set from NSIDC is supported by funding from NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) and the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC).

7. Document Information

Glossary and Acronyms

See NASA's Earth Observatory Web site.

List of Acronyms

Please see the EOSDIS Acronyms list for a general list of Acronyms. The following acronyms are used in this document:

AARI:  Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute

IARC:  International Arctic Research Center

NOAA:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIHMI:  All-Russia Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information

WMO:  World Meteorological Organization

Document Creation Date

13 August 2003

Document Authors

This document was prepared by K. Webster and F. Fetterer based on the documentation of the related product, Arctic Climatology Project (2000), and on information supplied by V. Radionov, AARI. A. Machado reviewed the data and provided the graphic.

Document Revision Date

In October, 2006, F. Fetterer made minor edits, updated the documentation formating, and provided a link to graphs of data.

Document URL