Alaska | January 2014 | Record Warmth

Many of the lower 48 states in the U.S. have suffered through a colder and snowier than normal winter. Not so for Alaska. It experienced record warmth in January 2014. A high pressure ridge in the Pacific off the coast of North America has consistently guided warm air and rain to the north into Alaska. Normally, that warm moist air heads into California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia giving them their rainy season. Not so this year or last winter. As a result, California is in an extreme drought emergency.

This image shows surface temperature January 23–30, 2014 compared to the 2001–2010 average for the same week from NASA’s Terra satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Red is warmer than the average. White is near the average. Blue is cooler than the average. The deepest red areas are as much as 40°F (22°C) above the 2001-2010 average. The all-time high was tied on January 27 at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. Many other locations set records across the state.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Jeff Schmatltz

The warmth is causing a lot of problems. The melting is raising river levels and causing many avalanches. Richardson Highway was blocked to the port town of Valdez by a mound of snow 100 feet (30 meters) tall and up to 1,500 feet (460 meters) long. Runoff of rivers heavily loaded with sediment flowing into the coastal waters was imaged on January 25, 2014 by the Aqua satellite.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Jeff Schmatltz

More local reporting on aspects of this story by Yareth Rosen in the Alaska Dispatch January 28, 2014 .

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15 thoughts on “Alaska | January 2014 | Record Warmth

    • There are several ways to answer that question. At the most fundamental level, it is human caused from our fossil fuel use over the decades. We have added CO2 and raised the temperature of the planet. Sea ice is reduced which allows the Arctic to warm more. That affects the flow of the Jet Stream causing it to meander more. This pattern we see is a common set-up of the flow of the jet.

      Probably not an answer that gives much hope for a fix.

      Thank you for the question. It is one that everyone needs to address.

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  1. The trends this year (hell, for several years) are a bit worrisome, and by trends I mean the wider array of intense weather weather, shifting weather patterns, ocean temp rise and the overall median global temp rise. But there is still not enough dialogue about this in public. Notice I’ve not mentioned “C.C.” or god forbid “G.W.”? It just seems to bring dog-like stares, terrible rhetoric (on both side of the argument sometimes) or worse, the lonely sound of crickets chirping and this grotesque response below:

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    • I know what you mean. It is frustrating. Unless a major catastrophy impacts someone’s ability to carry out their daily life activities, most people won’t pay attention. It is kind of like maintenance of a car or a house. You need to do it, or else, it will be beyond repair someday. Earth is sending out all sorts of warning lights to ‘check engine’ etc.

      LOL on the All is Fine Here.

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  2. I’ve always said that if one region is colder than normal, another is warmer than normal. If somewhere is getting too much rain, elsewhere is getting too little … etc. This was been cold than normal for us, but not until about a month ago did I realize the warmer-than-normal temps in Alaska. Meanwhile, earlier this week I saw a fascinating interview with a climatologist on CNN about the wavy jet stream.

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  3. They say that every cloud has a silver lining. If frigid regions get a little warmer, not only does the growing season lengthen, but certain crops that couldn’t previously be planted there will be able to be planted. For both reasons there’ll be more food to feed people.

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