May 1, 2020

America’s northernmost city just recorded its first record-low temperature in 13 years

Utqiagvik, AK
USA
by
Matthew Cappucci
,
Washington Post
Utqiagvik, Alaska is one of the fastest warming cities due to climate change
A shot of Utqiagvik on Wednesday. Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is making hot weather occur more frequently and cold weather occur less frequently. In a stable climate, the ratio of new record highs to new record lows is approximately even. However, in our warming climate, record highs have begun to outpace record lows


Article Excerpt: Utqiagvik — formerly known as Barrow — in Alaska is among the fastest-warming cities in the nation thanks to human-induced climate change. But Wednesday, the city located on the state’s North Slope set its first record-low temperature in 13 years.

The United States’ northernmost city plummeted to a bone-chilling minus-20 degrees Wednesday, beating out the previous daily record set in 1973. Not only is that its first record low in more than a decade, but it’s also the latest in the season that Utqiagvik has observed a temperature so frigid.

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“This is a good example of how, even in a warming world, it can still get cold,” said Rick Thoman, an Alaska climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

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Sea ice is perhaps the greatest influencer of the weather in Utqiagvik; the hasty retreat of sea ice and the emergence of exposed ocean waters in recent years have amplified Utqiagvik’s climate-driven warming rate even more.

So while Wednesday’s morning low did beat out a previous record by a mere degree, it’s negligible in the face of 112 record high temperatures tied or broken in the time since Utqiagvik’s last record low.

“In baseball, you don’t see 112 to 1,” Thoman said. “That’s a blowout.”