NASA image shows nearly ice-free Alaska as temps top 96 degrees

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
June 24, 2013



After a colder-than-average spring, Alaska is suffering a sudden and record-breaking heatwave. Temperatures on Monday, June 17th hit a stunning 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) in Talkeetna, Alaska, just below the state's highest temperature ever record of 98 degrees Fahrenheit in 1969. On the same day, NASA's Terra Satellite's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) took a rare image of a cloud-free Alaska.

"Other towns in southern [besides Talkeetna] Alaska set all-time record highs, including Cordova, Valez, and Seward. The high temperatures also helped fuel wildfires and hastened the breakup of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea," a press release from NASA reads.

Climate change is impacting Alaska and other high-latitude regions quicker than rest of the world. In fact, the state is likely to see the first climate change refugees in North America, due to rising sea levels swamping native villages on the Arctic Ocean.

Last year the Arctic saw the lowest sea ice extent on record, dropping to just below 3.4 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). While the decline in Arctic sea ice has long been expected to impact local wildlife, recent evidence has also shown it may be influencing weather patterns across the northern hemisphere, including unusual jet stream patterns that get stuck longer than usual causing extreme weather in many parts of the world.

To date, global temperatures have risen approximately 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last hundred years mostly due to burning fossil fuels for energy. Experts believe temperatures will rise between 2 degrees Celsius and 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, depending on how quickly global society weans itself off fossil fuels. Nations worldwide have already committed to keeping temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius, but greenhouse gas emissions are still on the upswing.




Alaska on June 17th. Image courtesy of NASA. Click to enlarge.















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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (June 24, 2013).

NASA image shows nearly ice-free Alaska as temps top 96 degrees.

http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0624-hance-alaska-heatwave.html