Alaska’s Spring Is Becoming More Like California’s Summer

Climate change’s new normal is causing record-breaking heat and wildfire risk.
(Map: NOAA)
May 29, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

Following an abnormally warm winter, spring temperatures exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit across a broad swath of interior Alaska in May, breaking records for the earliest day with temperatures that high.

Eagle, a town east of Fairbanks with about 120 years’ worth of weather records, reported a daytime high of 91 degrees on May 23. This was the earliest day ever with a temperature of over 90 degrees and “smashed that location’s all-time record for May,” according to the National Weather Service.

“It was 30.1 degrees hotter than the average daily high temperature in May (59.5 degrees), and 18.1 degrees warmer than the average high temperature in July, Eagle’s warmest month of the year,” the agency reported, adding that as of May 29, daily temperatures in Eagle had set or tied 10 high-temperature records.

So, Why Should You Care? The impacts of climate change have pushed temperatures in the Far North as much as four degrees above historical averages. For Alaskans, the hotter temperatures have increased wildfire risks and insect pests and disrupted iconic events and tourist draws, such as the Iditarod dogsled race. The disappearance of sea ice is causing extreme coastal erosion that will force entire communities, such as Kivalina, to relocate.

The changes also threaten the existence of polar bears and other animal species that depend on ice and cold to survive.