Alaska set to finish 2019 with record warm year

By Yereth Rosen ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska is set to finish 2019 with a record average high temperature after a year of extremes ranging from a sweltering summer and rampant wildfires to vanishing sea ice and winter rains where heavy snows were once the norm. Wildlife also suffered from the state's chaotic weather, with mass die-offs of seabirds and marine mammals struggling to cope with ecological upheaval. The turmoil is part of a rapid warming pattern in which Alaska - at the leading edge of climate change due to its proximity to the Arctic - is heating at twice the rate of the planet as a whole, researchers say.

Reuters December 27, 2019 04:12:42 IST
Alaska set to finish 2019 with record warm year

Alaska set to finish 2019 with record warm year

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska is set to finish 2019 with a record average high temperature after a year of extremes ranging from a sweltering summer and rampant wildfires to vanishing sea ice and winter rains where heavy snows were once the norm.

Wildlife also suffered from the state's chaotic weather, with mass die-offs of seabirds and marine mammals struggling to cope with ecological upheaval.

The turmoil is part of a rapid warming pattern in which Alaska - at the leading edge of climate change due to its proximity to the Arctic - is heating at twice the rate of the planet as a whole, researchers say.

"Even with the current cold snap, I don't see any way that 2019 is not the warmest year on record," Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center, said in a tweet on Thursday.

"Will every year be as warm as this? No. But the escalator is going up," said Rick Thoman, a scientist with the university's Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

Alaska's warmest year on record was 2016, when annual temperatures averaged 32.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or just over 0 Celsius. That was the first time the benchmark crept above freezing, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For 2019, the statewide average through November stood at 34.5 degrees, a year-to-date high that tops nearly a century of record-keeping.

THE BIG THAW

The spring melt on major rivers came earlier than ever and the uppermost layer of permafrost across the Seward Peninsula was thawed the entire year.

Summer temperatures soared to 90 or higher in several locales, including Anchorage, in the midst of a severe drought. Wildfires destroyed homes, triggered evacuations and fouled the region's air quality for weeks.

Unusually high ocean temperatures spawned toxic algae blooms in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea.

The Arctic coast city of Utqiagvik - the predominantly Alaska Native settlement formerly known as Barrow and the northernmost city in the United States - recorded its most extreme thaw conditions on record. Stretches of the sea coast, once frozen solid by October, had yet to ice over by mid-December.

“It's December 20, and we're finally getting some ice on the shore,” said Billy Adams, who posts climate observations to a community network managed by the Arctic Research Center.

Vanishing sea ice causes ocean waters to absorb more heat, creating a kind of thermodynamic feedback loop that triggers a cascade of wide-ranging climatic consequences that extend around the globe, Thoman said.

In the Bering Sea, where fish populations were dislocated and carcasses of seabirds and seals littered shorelines, the effects of warming are notably acute, Thoman said.

The extraordinary conditions of 2019 offer a preview of Alaska's future.

“Moving forward, these types of years will be more and more common,” Brettschneider said.

(Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Editing by Steve Gorman and Dan Grebler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Elon Musk leaves behind Amazon's Bezos to become world's richest person - Bloomberg News
Business

Elon Musk leaves behind Amazon's Bezos to become world's richest person - Bloomberg News

(Reuters) -Tesla Inc chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk surpassed Amazon.com Inc's top boss Jeff Bezos to become the world's richest man, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

Daimler starting year with optimism after strong finish to 2020 - CEO
Business

Daimler starting year with optimism after strong finish to 2020 - CEO

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler is starting the year with optimism after a strong finish to 2020, Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius said on Thursday, adding that sales in the fourth quarter had continued the strong trend seen in the preceding three months.

Oil hits 11-month highs on Saudi cuts, shrugs off U.S. unrest
Business

Oil hits 11-month highs on Saudi cuts, shrugs off U.S. unrest

By Laura Sanicola NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, hitting 11-month peaks as markets remained focused on Saudi Arabia's unexpected pledge to deepen its oil cuts and firmer equities, shrugging off political unrest in the United States. Brent crude rose 18 cents to $54.48 a barrel by 1:32 p.m. EST (1832 GMT) after touching $54.90, a high not seen since before the first COVID-19 lockdowns in the West.