85th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 11 January 2005: 9:30 AM
Climate Change and Short-Term Forecasting for Alaskan Northern Coasts
Gary L. Hufford, NOAA/NWS, Anchorage, AK; and J. L. Partain
Poster PDF (181.1 kB)

It is recognized from current climate model projections that Alaska is an area where changes to the climate are likely to be the largest in the world. These models predict a greater warming for the Arctic than for the rest of the globe. However, climate change is occurring in Alaska now. Observed data indicate that over the last 30 years annual surface temperatures for the northern coast of Alaska have increased about 1-2 degrees Celsius; sea ice has and is melting (5-10% decrease in sea ice extent); precipitation has increased between 10 to 20%, most of this increase occurring in the summer and winter; there is an increase in the intensity of extra-tropical cyclones and storm track shifts; and permafrost is thawing. These environmental conditions interact to increase both coastal erosion and flooding along the northern coast of Alaska and the increasing variability in these conditions presents a challenge to the short-term weather forecaster. No longer can the forecaster depend on climatology and must be alert to extreme events. The communities of Shishmaref, Barrow, and Point Hope are studied to exemplify the direct effects these variables are having on community infrastructure, economy, culture, and emergency preparedness. Impacts on the NWS marine and coastal services program, particularly with regard to short-term forecasts and warnings, are also given.

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