Elevation-dependent warming in the Eastern Siberian Arctic

James R. Miller, John E. Fuller, Michael J. Puma, Joseph M. Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is evidence for elevation-dependent warming (EDW) in many mountainous regions, including the Alps, Rockies, and Tibetan Plateau, all of which are in mid latitudes. Most studies finding evidence of EDW indicate that both recent decadal and future projected warming rates are greater at higher elevations. In this study, we examine the roles of Arctic amplification and elevation on future warming rates in winter and summer in eastern Siberia (50-70° N; 80-180° E). This region includes four major river basins that flow into the Arctic Ocean (the Yenisei, Lena, Indigirka, and Kolyma) and intersects with mountain ranges in northern Mongolia and eastern Siberia. We analyze projected 21st century temperature projections using a six-member ensemble of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate System Model (CCSM4) with a radiative forcing of 8.5 W m-2. Projected warming rates in winter for the 21st century are dominated by Arctic amplification, which leads to significantly larger warming rates at higher latitudes, with latitudinal gradients of about 0.16 °C degree-1 latitude. In summer, the latitudinal gradient is near zero (0.02 °C degree-1 of latitude). Within specific latitude bands, we also find EDW. However, unlike most mid-latitude locations where warming rates are greater at higher elevations, we find that future warming rates are smaller at higher elevations for this high-latitude region, particularly during winter, with statistically significant rates varying between -0.70 °C km-1 and -2.46 °C km-1 for different 5° latitude bands. The decrease in warming rates with elevation in winter at the highest latitudes is primarily attributed to strong inversions and changes in the lapse rate as free-air temperatures warm at slower rates than surface temperatures. In summer, the elevation dependence is much weaker than in winter but still statistically significant and negative in all but the most northern latitude band with values ranging between -0.10 °C km-1 and -0.56 °C km-1.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number024044
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Arctic amplification
  • Arctic warming
  • Elevation-dependent warming
  • Temperature inversions


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