One of Alaska’s Warmest Springs on Record Is Causing a Dangerous Thaw
Author: Sarah Kaplan
The Washington Post
UTQIAGVIK - Bryan Thomas doesn’t want any more “wishy-washy conversations about climate change.”
For four years, he has served as station chief of the Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, America’s northernmost scientific outpost in its fastest-warming state. Each morning, after digging through snow to his office’s front door, Thomas checks the preliminary number on the observatory’s carbon dioxide monitor. On a recent Thursday it was almost 420 parts per million - nearly twice as high as the global preindustrial average.
It’s just one number, he said. But there’s no question in his mind about what it means.
Alaska is in the midst of one of the warmest springs the state has ever experienced - a transformation that has disrupted livelihoods and cost lives. The average temperature for March recorded at the NOAA observatory in Utquiagvik was 18.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Fairbanks notched its first consecutive March days when the temperature never dropped below freezing. Ice roads built on frozen waterways - a vital means of transportation in the state - have become weak and unreliable. At least five people have died this spring after falling through ice that melted sooner than expected.