Climate change and weather patterns have come together to wreak havoc on America’s most northern state in recent years, according to Axios, and the situation is only likely to worsen.
June and July ushered in record-high temperatures in Alaska, where Anchorage reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time in its history, and the state logged higher temperatures than parts of the contiguous U.S.
And the heatwave has brought with it thunderstorms leading to massive wildfires — “an area greater than Rhode Island has burned in just the past 11 days,” Axios noted.
So what exactly is going on up there?
Climate scientists and meteorologists say that a warming Earth and traditional weather patterns are working together to create a potentially dire problem in Alaska, where many who live in rural areas are “dependent on ice and snow cover for transportation and hunting.”
Rick Thoman, a climate expert at the University of Alaska, said “duration of the heat, plus the shockingly rapid and early disappearance of sea ice from the Bering and Chukchi Seas” is noteworthy.
And meteorologists say that normal weather patterns have a more significant effect when they float over land that is already warmed by higher-than-usual temperatures.
"Weather happens on top of climate. An airmass similar to what we just experienced has occurred several times in the past. What's different now is that the very warm airmass was placed over an environment that has already warmed by several degrees," meteorologist Brian Brettschneider told Axios.
And the warming in Alaska has been significant.
According to Axios, Alaska has had its:
- Warmest 12-month period on record, (July 2018 through June 2019) since 1925.
- Warmest 24-month period (July 2017 to June 2019)
- Warmest 48-month period (July 2015 to June 2019)
- Warmest 64-month period (July 2015 to June 2019)