Expand chart
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

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
8 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
9 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!