Climate Controls

Climate Controls

Im sure by now, there must only be one burning question that you are dying to know about Sodankylä, Finland… and that is… what on earth are the climate controls that effect this region? Well, I’m really glad that you asked because that’s what this blog post is about.

Micro & Meso-Scale Influences

First, let’s take a closer look at some of the smaller characteristics that effect this region, also known as Micro-Scale and Meso-Scale climate controls. These are things that are local and specific to just this area. This can include both naturally occurring elements such as streams or forests, and it can also include anthropogenic factors like urban environments with buildings and concrete.

The different geographical and topographical characteristics of a location will play a major role in determining which types of climates it will be affected by. In the case of naturally occurring instances, this can include things like elevation, proximity to large bodies of water, vegetation, or mountains are just a few examples. In the case of Sodankylä, there are a few meso-scale factors that this town is heavily influenced by…

  •  The fact that Sodankylä is positioned so far north, putting it just outside of the border of the Arctic Circle. (67.416 North, 26.58897 East)
  •  The town of Sodankylä is also positioned right between two rivers that eventually join just south of the town.
  • Air masses that effect this region include Maritime Polar (mP) Maritime Tropical (mT) and Continental Polar (cP) in the winter and these same air masses effect the country during the summer as well.
  •  The elevation of Sodankylä is only 591 feet above sea level.
  • And speaking of sea level, Finland is also influenced by both the Baltic Sea and the Barents Sea, adding another “mediating” factor to Findland’s climate.
  • With a population of around 8900 residents, any chances of urban heat island effects are minimal.
  • A series of wetlands litters the landscape of central and northern Finland. Known as Bogs, these waters help provide support for the forests that are also found in this region.
  • Although there are nearly 200 peaks in Finland, Orographic influence does not play a major role in impacting the climate of Sodankylä.
  • Due to it’s northern latitude, Sodankylä lies along the path of the polar jet stream which brings in cold fronts throughout much of the year. (see graphic below)

The following two graphs demonstrate average temperatures throughout a fifty-seven year period in Sodankylä. The first shows the averages in the month of January throughout this time period, and the second shows the averages taken in July.


Let’s first talk about the January data. At first glance you will notice that both the average high and low temperatures have fluctuated significantly over the last fifty years. The lowest high average being near -20F  around 1980, and the highest high average being 3F around 1965. And as one might expect, the fluctuations observed in the highs are also mirrored in the average lows. This simply shows that when Sodankylä has experienced a cold January, this trend effects the highest and the lowest temperatures, which is to be expected. Based on the trend line, it appears that there has been a slight increase over the last few decades. It is a bit surprising that there is this much temperature fluctuation in a region that could be considered somewhat coastal, as one could expect a more maritime constant in the temperature averages. But due to the instability brought in during the winter time from the Jet Stream, these temperatures do vary quite a bit. Which is indicative of Northern Mid-Latitude locations. But overall, you can see that there is a slight warming trend over the years.


Next we’ll take a look at the July averages. The first, most obvious trend, again is one of slight overall warming. But when compared to the averages from January, you can see that the general trend does not show as much fluctuation over the years, and the temperatures remain relatively constant in comparison.


Sodankylä vs Honolulu :A Comparison

I wanted to choose a fairly different location for my comparison. And I think Honolulu, Hawaii and Sodankylä, Finland are about as different as you can get. Sodankylä gets year round precipitation, with the highest percentage of precipitation falling in the summer months between June and October. (CAUSE?) Average monthly temperatures in Sodankylä range from -15C to 14C, so there is a significant change in temperatures throught the year (almost 30 degrees). Honolulu on the other hand, sees a variation in monthly temperatres that is much more slight (around 5 degrees of difference from January to December).

The precipitation, however, does vary considerably throughout the seasons. The difference in characteristics may be a result of many things, most it is important to note that the simple geographical location of these two towns has a significant impact on the types of weather and the climate that they experience. For one thing, Honolulu is severely influenced by the trade winds which are forced to effectively split as they reach the coast of the big island. The tall mountains in Hawaii also play a major role in effecting the weather and climate in Hawaii. Much of the precipitation that Hawaii sees is thanks to these two phenomenon. The precipitation that falls in Sodankylä is a bit different; about half of the precipitation that falls in Sodankylä falls as snow, and though precipitation patterns do vary season to season, there is a much higher level of consistancy when compared to Honolulu. The reason why Sodankylä sees so much precipitation year round is largely due to the fact that Finland is situated in a region that is heavily influenced by westerly air disturbances. Finland’s location also makes it susceptible to rapid changes in pressure and wind.

Finland’s Köppen climate classification is Df (Continental subarctic or boreal (taiga) climates), and the Lapland region where Sodankylä is located is classified as DFc (Subarctic With Cool Summer, Wet All Year). The Oahu island on which Honolulu is located is classified within the Köppen class of Af, Am, Aw, and a little bit of Cfb (Rainforest, Monsoon, Savana, and Oceanic, respectively).

The differences seen in these two locations are due mainly to their location. One is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, affected by trade winds, maritime tropical & maritime equatorial air, orographic precipitation and a tropical location. Meanwhile, hald of the country in which Sodankylä is located is actually within the Arctic circle. Influenced by the Polar Jet Stream, arctic fronts, maritime polar air and continental polar air, Sodankylä experiences a much different climate than Hawaii.







(photo source: )

(photo source: )

(photo source: Honolulu Climograph : )

(photo source: Sodankylä Climograph : )

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