Near-surface winds are typically light in the central Arctic with mean annual speeds averaging 4-6 m s-1. The NP observations show mean speeds of about 5 ms-1 year round. At locations in Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, mean monthly wind speeds are only 6-7 m s-1 in January (Borisov, 1975). In the Barents-Kara sea sector, cyclonic disturbances in winter bring higher wind speeds (Wilson, 1969). The highest
frequencies of strong winds (>11 m s-1) in winter are reported in the Barents Sea (>40%), off Kap Farvell and southeastern Greenland (>40%) and in the Bering Sea (>30%).
At locations dominated by anticyclonic conditions and strong, persistent surface inversions, winds are especially light. This is also often true in sheltered valleys and coastal fiords. For example, in January 1958, the mean wind speed was 4.7 m s-1 at Alert, 5.1 m s-1 at Eureka, but only 1.3 m s-1 inland at Lake Hazen (Jackson, 1959a). At stations in the Canadian Arctic, mean wind speeds are typically less than in the Russian Arctic due to the lower frequency of cyclone activity. Calms are reported 30-45% of the time at Canadian Arctic stations (Wilson, 1969). Nevertheless, when gales do occur they may last several days and extreme wind speeds exceeding 45 m s-1 (hurricane strength) can occur on the east coast of Baffin Island. Katabatic winds over and around Greenland can be quite strong and are discussed in Chapter 8.
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