Climate of Altai

Altai climate depends on three main factors: amount of solar radiation, air mass circulation and type of the underlying surface. Air masses have the greatest influence on climate in Altai, the reason it has different properties, as encountering and interacting air masses set unstable, rapidly changing weather. Continental air masses have pronounced hot and dry properties in summer. Stable cold weather characterizes winter months. Arctic continental air masses come from North. Continental tropical air masses can reach from Central Asia and bring early warm spring and hot, dry summer.

The relief of this region is the second factor that has a significant influence on Altai climate. Relief forms vertical climatic zones. Low-mountain climate zone (500-600 meters), zone of middle mountain climate (from 500 to 1500 m and more), alpine climate zone (above 2000-2500m). The Highest area is the Southern and South-Eastern, then relief falls in the North and North-West, releasing path for Arctic air to get in through entire territory to the valleys between ridges.

Altai climate is characterized by uneven distribution of precipitation, where general regularity is a decreasing amount of precipitation from West to East. So, the driest territory is Chuiskaya Steppe (100-150 mm per year). It is also the coldest place in Altai, average temperature here is minus 32 C, and the minimum temperature registered was minus 62 C. Similar temperature conditions characterize Kuray steppe and Ukok plateau.

The Altai Mountains are located in the center of Eurasian continent, far away from oceans, so lands heat up in summer and rapidly cool in winter, region of high pressure Siberian anticyclone is formed on the North-East part of Siberia. It brings clear frosty weather with low temperatures. But mountain climate and steppe climate have specific features. Pressure and temperature drop with altitude, cloud cover and precipitation increase. The complex arrangement of ridges, strongly dissected topography, attitude fluctuations create the conditions for forming several types of climate and diverse micro-climates.

Local air masses form over the mountains. Summer is cooler in the mountains than on the plains and winter is warmer in mountains. Mountain air masses impact with plain air in foothill area creating very unstable weather with heavy rainfall. Altai weather is characterized by considerable height of sun (60-65 degree in summer) and 17-hour summer day length. Winter day is shorter 2 times. So, amount of solar heat is distributed irregularly, inter mountain basins and river valleys get more solar heat. Sun is shining in deep valleys and northern slopes, but much less. It is important to consider that when choosing a camp place, as Eastern slopes are lighten 1-1.5 hours earlier than Western slopes, cloudiness is less in the morning.