Anchorage just recorded its warmest month on record. July was four degrees above normal, with an average temperature of nearly 63 degrees.
Brian Brettschneider is a climatologist in Anchorage who closely tracks Alaska climate data and trends. Alaska’s Energy Desk is checking in with him regularly as part of a new segment- Ask a Climatologist.
Brettschneider told Energy Desk editor Annie Feidt the record or near record warmth has extended across the state from January through July.
Brian: When you add all that up, it puts 2016 way out in front in first place for the warmest year on record. In fact, it’s the first time for the first seven months of the year that Alaska has been, on average, above freezing. And there’s a large gap between the first and second place year.
Annie: And what does that mean for the rest of the year?
Brian: Well, the fact that it’s been so warm for the first seven months, doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the next few months, but if you ask yourself why it’s been so warm for the first seven months, the factors that have made it so warm, are continuing. So we would expect warm months for the rest of 2016 and for 2016 to almost certainly become the warmest year on record for Alaska.
Annie: Why has it been so warm, what are those factors?
Brian: There are several factors. One is globally, the last few years have been the warmest on record. So globally, we’re starting with this very high baseline. and then here locally Alaska is surrounded by waters that are at or near all time record highs, like the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. So we’re just surrounded by this envelop of warm, moist air over this record warm sea surface temperature. And there’s really no place this air can cool off before moving over Alaska.