Jul 11, 2019

Alaska is entering a new climate frontier

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Reproduced from NOAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Alaska's recent heat wave has been grabbing headlines, and rightly so: The state has been hotter than parts of the contiguous U.S. during June and July.

Driving the news: Anchorage hit 90°F for the first time ever, and the heat plus summer thunderstorms have triggered massive wildfires across the state. An area greater than Rhode Island has burned in just the past 11 days.

But this isn't the whole story.

The big picture: The ongoing heat wave is part of a longer-term accelerated warming trend that is altering life for Alaskans, many of whom live in rural communities dependent on ice and snow cover for transportation and hunting.

By the numbers: The most recent heat has been staggering, but so too is the long-term picture. Alaska has now had its:

What they're saying: The duration of the heat, plus the shockingly rapid and early disappearance of sea ice from the Bering and Chukchi Seas is most notable, Rick Thoman, a climate expert at the University of Alaska, tells Axios.

Meteorologist Brian Brettschneider said the record heat would most likely not have happened without the overall, climate change-driven warming of the state.

"Weather happens on top of climate. An airmass similar to what we just experienced has occurred several times in the past. What's different now is that the very warm airmass was placed over an environment that has already warmed by several degrees," he told Axios.

Go deeper: Heat wave brings record-breaking temperature highs to Anchorage

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July 2019 was the hottest month on record

Photo: Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

July 2019 was confirmed as the hottest month ever recorded, slightly topping or equal to global temperatures in July 2016, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

The big picture: Regions around the world have seen unrelenting, record-breaking temperatures this summer, causing dangerous conditions and deaths throughout. Studies have shown that the increase in the frequency of heat waves and the rise in global temperatures is symptomatic of human-caused climate change.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019

Historic heat wave shatters all-time temperature records across Europe

A boy attempting to cool off under a public water spray in Paris. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

A blistering heat wave across Europe shattered a number of all-time temperature records across the continent on Thursday.

By the numbers: On Thursday, Paris reached 42.6°C (108.7°F) — by far its hottest temperature on record, according to Météo-France.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

Deadly heat wave grips much of the U.S.

People seek refuge from the searing heat at the beach in Coney Island, New York City. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

An "oppressive and dangerous" heat wave that's gripping much of the U.S. has left at least 3 people dead and caused the cancellation of several public events, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The National Weather Service said the heat was affecting much of the Midwest to the eastern U.S. this weekend. 147 million people in the Central and Eastern U.S. were under a heat advisory or excessive heat warning. "Very warm overnight temperatures limit recovery from daytime heat," the NWS said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 21, 2019