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On the Precipitation and Precipitation Change in Alaska

Alaska Climate Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2158 N Koyukuk St., Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2017, 8(12), 253;
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 9 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 15 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Precipitation with Climate Change)
PDF [7351 KB, uploaded 15 December 2017]


Alaska observes very large differences in precipitation throughout the state; southeast Alaska experiences consistently wet conditions, while northern Arctic Alaska observes very dry conditions. The maximum mean annual precipitation of 5727 mm is observed in the southeastern panhandle at Little Port Arthur, while the minimum of 92 mm occurs on the North Slope at Kuparuk. Besides explaining these large differences due to geographic and orographic location, we discuss the changes in precipitation with time. Analyzing the 18 first-order National Weather Service stations, we found that the total average precipitation in the state increased by 17% over the last 67 years. The observed changes in precipitation are furthermore discussed as a function of the observed temperature increase of 2.1 °C, the mean temperature change of the 18 stations over the same period. This observed warming of Alaska is about three times the magnitude of the mean global warming and allows the air to hold more water vapor. Furthermore, we discuss the effect of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which has a strong influence on both the temperature and precipitation in Alaska. View Full-Text
Keywords: Alaska precipitation; climate; climate change; temperature; Pacific Decadal Oscillation; Alaska Climate Research Center Alaska precipitation; climate; climate change; temperature; Pacific Decadal Oscillation; Alaska Climate Research Center

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Wendler, G.; Gordon, T.; Stuefer, M. On the Precipitation and Precipitation Change in Alaska. Atmosphere 2017, 8, 253.

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