Tuesday 12 December 2017
Temperature conditions of Hungary

The annual mean temperature in most parts of Hungary is between 10 and 11 °C. The spatial distribution of two-metre temperature is primarily influenced by the distance from the Equator, the altitude and the distance from the seas.

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Figure 1.
Annual mean temperature in Hungary based on the 1971–2000 period

The map of annual mean temperature reflects the orography (Fig. 1). The lowest values appear in the higher altitudes (the Bakony Mountains, around the western border, and in the Northern Mountains), where the mean temperature usually does not exceed 8 °C. Values above 11 °C only occur scarcely, mostly on southern exposed slopes.

The spatial distribution shows a decrease from SW to NE, which is due to the warming effect of the Mediterranean Sea and the cooling effect of the Siberian anticyclone. Note that in the last decade the areas exceeding 11 °C increased, particularly in the south of Hungary.

Although the impact of orography on the temperature is obvious, an inversion is common in winter, when the temperature increases with the altitude instead of decreasing. Stronger inversion can cause a cold-air pool within the Carpathian Basin, which means higher altitude areas can be warmer as they rise from the cold air mass that fills the bottom of the basin.

On the 1971–2000 average the first two weeks of January are the coldest periods of the year, but in a given year the coldest month can be any of the winter months (Fig. 2). The mean temperature of January, and generally the winter has higher variance than the summer months. The warmest period of the year is the end of July, beginning of August, furthermore, any of the summer months can be the warmest month of a single year.

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Figure 2.a. Monthly mean temperature of Hungary
based on 1971–2000 homogenized and interpolated data

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Figure 2.b. Lower and upper quartiles and extremes
of monthly mean temperature of Hungary
based on 1971–2000 homogenized and interpolated data

The maximum and minimum values are important practical features of air temperature. In Hungary the diurnal temperature range is the lowest in December (4–6 °C) when the days are the shortest and the cloud cover is the thickest, while in the sunny and longer summer days more than twice (11–13 °C) of that is common.

In the last century the climate has warmed in Hungary, as well (Fig. 3). Based on studies of homogenized data series (Szalai S., Szentimrey T., 2000: Has the climate of Hungary warmed in the 20th century? - in Hungarian), we can say that the characteristics of the Hungarian series follow the global tendencies, with a greater variability due to being a smaller area.

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Figure 3.
Annual mean temperature of Hungary, 1901–2009 (based on homogenized and interpolated data)