Researchers say climate change is the cause of rising temperatures, major storms, and dry air in Anchorage, Alaska.

By Kelly Vaughan
August 20, 2019
C M Hall/Getty Images

If you thought the heat wave in your town during the month of July was bad, residents in Anchorage, Alaska, had it far worse. Scientists have reported that the city had the most extreme weather patterns last month—heat, dry, smoke, and thunder records all set records—likely due to climate change. The nearly 300,000 residents of Anchorage experienced an all-time high temperature of 90 degrees on July 4. The week of July 3-9 was also the hottest all month, averaging 71.4 degrees. Rick Thoman, a climate translator with the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, was the first to report the data.

Additionally, Anchorage saw unusually frequent thunder during May and June—more than previous averages. But the extremities didn't end there. On August 10, lightning struck northern Alaska near the North Pole, which is an extremely rare occurrence based on previous data collections. The lightning flashes were recorded within 300 miles of the North Pole, between four and six p.m. AKDT, according to the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska. According to The Weather Center, the majority of lightning strikes happen mid-hemisphere and are hardly ever seen in the Arctic region of the Northern hemisphere or the Antarctic region in the Southern hemisphere.

Related: July May Have Been the Hottest Month Ever Recorded, According to Meteorologists

Despite the storms, the two and half month period from July 1 through August 16 was the driest on record. Anchorage International Airport recorded just 0.86 inches of precipitation, approximately 20% the total amount of previous averages.

The extremities are just another sign that climate change is real and impacting us everywhere, everyday. "We should expect changes. We should expect the forests to be in different locations. We should expect wildlife to move. We should expect plants to move. And in many cases, if they can't move fast enough, we should expect them to just go away," Dr. Brian Brettschneider, an associate climate researcher with the IARC at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, told the Associated Press.

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