FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For this week's 'Science in Alaska Series' talk, Rick Thoman of the National Weather Service discussed the continuity and changes in Alaska's climate over the last 100 years.
Rick Thoman; Climate Sciences and Services Manager, NWS>>"That's from 2001. Let's see what's happened since then. Ta da! Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, you've just witnessed the birth of a new climate."
The Raven Landing dining hall was filled with spectators hanging on every word of National Weather Service Climate Sciences and Services Manager, Rick Thoman, as he presented statistical analysis of climate data over the last century.
He said his analysis found little change in snowfall in the Fairbanks area during the last 80 to 100 years, but an increase in the length of the growing season by 2 to 4 weeks.
Minimum temperatures have warmed overall, with the most significant climate changes along the northern coastal regions.
Thoman says sea ice depletion has led to the development of a completely new climate type along the Arctic coast.
Rick Thoman; Climate Sciences and Services Manager, NWS>>"Because of the dramatic, dramatic changes in autumn sea ice, with the loss of ice during October and November off of the North Slope Coast and at Utqiagvik, that temperatures now are dramatically warmer. The ice is almost completely gone now in October, and by the time you get to October on the North Slope, the sun's providing almost no heating. That above freezing water is now the dominant controller of temperatures, and so Utqiagvik, now, in October is very much an arctic marine climate, very different than in the early part of the 20th century."