Data Set ID: 

Monthly Mean Precipitation Sums at Russian Arctic Stations, 1966-1990, Version 1

This data set contains monthly mean precipitation sums from Russian arctic stations. Precipitation measurements were acquired using a Tretyakov precipitation gauge. Data have not been adjusted for wind bias. Data from 1967 and later are corrected for wetting loss (this correction was made by observers as they recorded the station data). Precipitation measurements from 216 stations are available. An analysis of existing precipitation data sets confirmed that data from these stations are not, at the time of publication, available in other commonly used precipitation data sets. Most data records begin in 1966 and end in 1990.

This is the most recent version of these data.

  • Precipitation > Precipitation Amount > PRECIPITATION AMOUNT
Data Format(s):
  • ASCII Text
Spatial Coverage:
N: 69.77, 
S: 50.17, 
E: 164.17, 
W: 38.25
Spatial Resolution:
  • Varies
Temporal Coverage:
  • 1 January 1966 to 31 December 1990
Temporal Resolution1 monthMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Valery Vuglinsky

Geographic Coverage

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As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

National Snow and Ice Data Center (comp.). 2006. Monthly Mean Precipitation Sums at Russian Arctic Stations, 1966-1990, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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These data are provided as part of an ongoing effort to fill gaps in the precipitation record available to the arctic research community.

Detailed Data Description

Station List

A tab-delimited ASCII text file, precip_station_list.txt, is available via FTP. This file lists the station name, latitude (deg N) and longitude (deg E) of the station position, the temporal range, the river basin name (if known) and the station number (if known). This station list was created by NSIDC based on a station list with station positions provided by V. Vuglinsky. Users should note that station name spellings and positions can vary depending on the original data source and on the interpretive translation between languages.

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Precipitation is the only parameter in this data set. It is provided in monthly mean precipitation sums in mm.

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Spatial and Temporal Coverage and Resolution

Data were collected at stations between 50.17 N and 69.77 N, and 38.25 E and 164.17 E. Monthly data records in this data set begin in 1966 and end in 1990. The map in Figure 1 displays the location of meteorological stations where these precipitation measurements were taken.

Station Locations
Figure 1. Station Locations

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The data files are in tab-delimited ASCII text format.

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Sample Data Record

The following text shows the first segment of the northern_dvina_precip.txt file.

sample data record

In this example, Northern Dvina is the river basin, Biryakovo refers to the station name, Year gives the year the precipitation measurement was taken (ranges from 1966 to 1990), values 1-12 denote months (1 = January and 12 = December), and the sum is the sum of the monthly mean precipitation measurements from a specific station (Biryakovo) for a particular year.

Precipitation is recorded in mm.

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File Naming Convention

The data are available as tab-delimited ASCII text files with the following naming format:



  • river_basin_name = name of the river basin (i.e. Northern Dvina)
  • precip = monthly mean precipitation sums from Russian stations
  • txt = ASCII text format

Example file name: northern_dvina_precip.txt

If the river basin name was unknown for a station at the time of the data set publication, the station data were put in the output_precip.txt file.

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File Size

The data files range from 13 KB to 64 KB.

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Quality Assessment

The precipitation data were transferred to NSIDC from the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation by V. Vuglinsky. The original precipitation data were written records, prepared by regional hydrometeorological authorities. Editors at the regional hydrometeorological authorities quality control data before publishing the data in monthly precipitation bulletins. Because the data were transcribed (keyed) at the State Hydrological Institute, the data are subject to transcription errors. NSIDC did not perform a quality assessment on the precipitation data.

Users should note that precipitation sums for certain months are missing from some stations. Reasons for the missing sums include that certain stations had closed, there were gaps in the observations, the quality of the data was poor or a data value was lost during transmission. A file containing the missing values is available. Note that not every precipitation file was exhaustively checked. Therefore, there may be missing precipitation values that are not listed in the missing values file.

Measuring arctic precipitation accurately is difficult. Users of these data should first become familiar with error sources inherent in all arctic precipitation measurements. We strongly suggest consulting Groisman and Rankova (2001) and Groisman et al. (1991) and references contained therein, and the documentation on gridded precipitation fields in Arctic Climatology Project (2000) for an introduction to precipitation measurement issues.

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Software and Tools

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Data Acquisition and Processing

The original monthly precipitation sums were acquired from the official monthly precipitation bulletins prepared by regional hydrometeorological authorities in paper form and transcribed (keyed) to digital form at the State Hydrological Institute.

Meteorological observations including precipitation were performed according to the Manual for Hydrometeorological Stations and Posts, Gidrometeoizdat, 1985 (from "Nastavlenie gidrometeorologicheskim stantsyyam i postam." Vypusk 3, chast’ 1). 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). A meteorologist measured the amount of precipitation two or four times every 24 hours (see Groisman et al.,1991 for detailed instructions). Duration and type of precipitation were observed continuously. Amount of precipitation was measured to a precision of 0.1 mm.

The data were received at NSIDC in two deliveries, on 3 December 2004 and also on 30 January 2006. These data, in Excel spreadsheets, were combined with data from V. Vuglinsky already in use by NSIDC researchers to create this data set. The data were reformatted from Excel spreadsheets to tab-delimited ASCII file.

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References and Related Publications

Contacts and Acknowledgments


The NOAA team (F. Fetterer, L. Ballagh, and J. Kovarik) prepared this data product for publication at NSIDC. B. Raup, NSIDC, was responsible for the analysis that assured that these data are a new contribution (see Relation to Other Precipitation Data Sets). J. Beitler, NSIDC, performed a final edit on the documentation before publication. We thank Dr. Hermann Mächel, Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) Offenbach am Main, Germany, for evaluating overlap with stations in GPCC archives.

This work was funded by the NOAA Arctic Research Office (Grant #: NA17RJ1229). NSIDC would like to acknowledge support from Dr. John Calder, Director of the NOAA Arctic Research Office.

Document Information

Document Authors

L. Ballagh prepared this document based on discussion and email exchange with F. Fetterer, on correspondence with V. Vuglinsky at the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, and on documentation of related NSIDC precipitation products. F. Fetterer provided most of the content for the "Related NSIDC Data Collections" and "Other Related Data Collections" sections.

Document Creation Date

August 2006

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