Quantcast
Climate

Insane Heat Wave in Alaska Put Temperatures Higher Than in Arizona

Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, has been warming even faster than other regions of the world due to climate change. That was the findings of a report this spring from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which found that the rate of warming will only continue to increase in the coming decades.

The signs of rapid warming in Alaska were everywhere this past winter. The Iditarod was moved north 300 miles to Fairbanks because Anchorage had record low snowfall. A ski resort outside of Juneau had to close because of low snowfall and warm temperatures that inhibited snow-making.

Now the 49th state experienced a heat wave at the end of May. Over Memorial Day weekend, while Texas was being inundated with floods, parts of Alaska were warmer than Arizona. On May 23 in Fairbanks, the temperature reached 86 degrees Fahrenheit, while Phoenix topped out at 83 for the day, reports Al Jazeera. Even the town of Bettles, which is north of Fairbanks and falls within the Arctic Circle, recorded a temperature of 82.

That same day, Eagle, Alaska hit 91 degrees Fahrenheit, marking the earliest 90-degree day in state history, according to NASA Earth Observatory. And it wasn't just one unusually warm day. "Between May 16 and May 24, Eagle hit 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher daily—its second longest such streak on record for any time of the year," says Al Jazeera.

This map shows the record heat northwestern Canada and parts of Alaska experienced in the third week of May. Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Even America's northernmost city, Barrow, Alaska, set record high temperatures for four out of the six days between May 17-22, topping out at 47 degrees on May 21 (nearly 18 degrees above normal), The Weather Channel reports. This may sound like nothing compared to the current heat wave in India, "but north of the Arctic Circle, this is extreme warmth for late May," says The Weather Channel.

This particular heat wave in Alaska and northwestern Canada has to do with two typhoons altering the jet stream pattern."A series of two western Pacific super typhoons—Noul and Dolphin—have done a number on the (jet stream) pattern across the north Pacific following their extratropical transition," says Dr. Michael Ventrice, operational scientist at The Weather Channel Professional Division.

This "persistent high-pressure system ... is but one consequence of a developing El Niño in the eastern Pacific," says Al Jazeera. While El Niño may be exacerbating the warmth, the long term trend shows the Arctic will continue to warm from climate change. It has warmed faster than anywhere else in the world over the last 30 years.

The effects of the warming are many-fold. Anchorage recorded its warmest April and it will probably be its least snowy season on record with only 25.1 inches of snow to date (its prior least snowy season was in 1957-1958 with 30.4 inches), according to The Weather Channel. The rapid snowmelt led to flooding in some areas and fire danger is already high in what experts worry might be the worst wildfire season yet.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

NOAA: There Has Been No ‘Pause’ or ‘Hiatus’ in Global Warming

Is Antarctica Ice Melting or Growing? Watch This NASA Video and See for Yourself

IKEA Commits $1.13 Billion to Fight Climate Change and Invest in Renewable Energy

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
Bob Berg / Getty Images

How Summer and Diet Damage Your DNA, and What You Can Do

By Adam Barsouk

Today, your body will accumulate quadrillions of new injuries in your DNA. The constant onslaught of many forms of damage, some of which permanently mutates your genes, could initiate cancer and prove fatal. Yet all is not doomed: The lives we lead determine how well our cells can handle this daily molecular erosion.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme / Maxime Aliaga

300+ Mammal Species Could Still Be Discovered, Scientists Say

By Sara Novak

You can't protect an animal that you don't know exists. Tapanuli orangutans, for example, are found only in the Tapanuli region of Sumatra; they were only identified as a species last year, when scientists found them to be genetically different from other Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. With just 800 left, this newly discovered species is the most critically endangered ape.

It's hard to believe that with only seven great ape species on the planet—Tapanuli, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos—a species could have gone undiscovered until 2017. But, in fact, new research shows that many mammals still fly under the radar.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An iceberg is threatening to break and flood the village of Innarsuit. Karl Petersen / Getty Images

Giant Iceberg Threatens Tiny Greenland Village

Add another potential disaster to the climate change hazard list: iceberg caused tsunamis.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
A Kemp's ridley sea turtle like this one was found strangled by a beach chair Saturday. EPA

World’s Most Endangered Sea Turtle Found Strangled by Beach Chair

An extremely endangered sea turtle was found dead on a Fort Morgan, Alabama beach Saturday, strangled by an abandoned beach chair, the Miami Herald reported Sunday.

The turtle's death was documented by a series of Facebook posts by the Fort Morgan branch of Alabama sea turtle conservation group Share the Beach.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
White-tailed deer flee in a nighttime photograph. George Shiras

People Are So Annoying That Animals Are Becoming More Nocturnal

By Jason Bittel

It's official: Animals around the world are sick of our sh . . . enanigans.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Garlic mustard flower. Gary J. Wood / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Edible Weeds Likely Growing in Your Yard

By Brian Barth

You work so hard on your vegetable garden, primping and pruning to the point of exhaustion each spring. One of the biggest chores, of course, is weeding. But in doing so, you might be throwing away valuable produce.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pixabay

If Meditation Is Not Your Thing, Try a Walk in the Woods

By Karin Klein

There are times when I don't know what to do with myself. I feel at odds with the world, irritated by the people in it, in a funk about myself and what I'm achieving or, rather, not achieving, overwhelmed by the obstacles and complications of life. Happiness seems like an entirely elusive state of being.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!