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Climate Change In Alaska

Climate change, in Alaska as elsewhere, is a contentious subject. We state up front that the ASCC and the Alaska State Climatologist take no formal stance on the subject of global climate warming.

We do believe that the available evidence suggests Alaska's climate is indeed changing. This is not a surprising or controversial conclusion — climate is constantly in a state of flux that involves many spatial and time scales. The role of the ASCC is to provide timely information on current and past climate records. This data may then used by ourselves and others to draw conclusions regarding climate change —and potential consequences — for Alaska.

GLOBAL WARMING vs. CLIMATE CHANGE

The purpose of this page is to present thoughtful, well-reasoned, and scientifically-based material, which probably spans the whole spectrum of the subject area.

Misconceptions and unfounded assertions abound in this subject area, so fraught with emotional and political overtones. It is important to recognize that there is a difference between the study of climatology and climate change, though certainly the former informs the latter. Alaska climatology in its myriad forms is what the ASCC is all about.

There is also a big difference between "global warming" and "climate change" on whatever scale it takes place. Certainly, warming is one major factor in climate change. However, worries about global warming are overshadowed by the regional effects of climate change. Issues such as temporal and spatial changes in precipitation, relative timing of freeze-up and break-up, cloudiness, seasonal sea-ice concentration and storminess all have a much greater impact on Alaskans' lives than a few degrees of warming per century. It seems reasonable to concentrate on these local and regional factors in the discussion of climate change as it is experienced in Alaska. In the following section we provide links to a few of the myriad sources that consider these phenomena. Collecting and linking to these sources is an ongoing task and we welcome suggestions for additions on this list. We acknowledge that this is far from an exhaustive list on the subject.

Our listing DOES NOT in any way suggest an endorsement of these sites' content or conclusions other than the fact that we deem them based more on fact than on political persuasion or specific ideology.

Alaska and Regional Climate Change Links

  1. A text discussion/overview of Alaska climate, courtesy of the Western Region Climate Center.
  2. A shorter text overview of Alaska climate prepared by the State Climatologist for use on the CoCoRaHS Web site.
  3. The famous (or infamous) "hockey stick" papers of Mann et. al. (1998) and (2008) that have proven so controversial. (This is actually a global-warming issue, but pertinent to the subject as a whole).
  4. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) web site. IPCC is the United Nations organization charged with reviewing climate change research and making climate change policy.
  5. A 2008 survey paper from EOS concerning seasonal sea-ice loss in the Arctic .
  6. A 2007 paper on cloud-radiation interaction modeling studies in the Arctic using SHEBA data.
  7. A paper about the increasing density of shrubs in arctic Alaska .
  8. A paper about the "meltdown of the Arctic".
  9. The Scenarios Network for Alaskan Planning (SNAP), a website using downsizing of climate model predictions to provide guidance on provide potential climate-change impacts.
  10. NOAA's Arctic reportcard for 2008, A website on the state of the arctic cryosphere.
  11. A great website showing"before and after" photos of several of Alaska's glaciers &mdash a powerful visual display of the loss of mass in Alaskan glaciers over the last several decades.

While the above offerings merely scratch the surface, they can give you a start on the very complex subject of Alaskan climate change. Check back frequently on this page as we add to the preceding list.


 

THE FINE PRINT

The data sources listed on this website are provided as a service to our clients. Their listing on no way implies an endorsement of their services or quality and/or validity of their data. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the only provider of data that is certifiable. In many cases, the agencies and data providers listed herein are not the initial or primary collectors of the data and are not responsible for the provenance of the data they provide.

This web site is by no means intended to be an exhaustive collection of Alaska climate data. If you are aware of a provider of Alaska climate data, private or public, that you feel should be mentioned this site, please Contact Us with the pertinent information and we will include it in our offerings.