When scientists look for the effects of global warming, they often turn their focus to far reaches of the planet where variations are most noticeable. In Alaska, climatologists have pointed out the state has experienced one of its warmest winters. 

The lowest recorded winter temperatures in Alaska this year bottomed out at 43 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, where for the past century it had reached at least 53 degrees. In some parts of the state, such as the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island and the north Gulf Coast, temperatures were the coldest on record.

Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the National Weather Service who spoke with Alaska Public Radio confirmed it was an unusual winter. He said the 2015-2016 winter saw 61 days out of 90 with above normal temperatures, which is about twice as many as normal.

Sea ice in the Bering Strait is said to be at its lowest since 1979. And if the current pattern continues, temperatures will increase 1.4 degrees Celsius per decade as they have since the 1970s. 

Along with general climate change, the direct causes of the warming trend this year were attributed to warmer ocean temperatures in an anomaly this year known as “the blob,” a continuing drought in the west and an El Nino year. 

For more visit Alaska Public Broadcasting.

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