During the early winter of 2002 and late winter of 2007, the Alaskan sector of the North Pacific Ocean region experienced record-breaking temperature anomalies. The duration of these episodes was unusually long, with each lasting more than 1 month: 55 days for the warm anomaly of October-December 2002 and 37 days for the cold anomaly of February-March 2007. Temperature departures over each respective period were the largest for the continental climate of interior Alaska (>10°C) and the smallest for the maritime regions of Alaska (<4°C). Mean temperatures over the event periods in 2002 and 2007 easily ranked as the record warmest and coldest, respectively, for many surface observing stations. In addition, heating degree-day anomalies were on the order of 700 units for these periods. Atmospheric circulation patterns at the surface and upper levels for the circum-Arctic proved to be the driver for these persistent events. The 2002 warm anomaly was driven by enhanced southerly advection associated with an unusually strong Aleutian low and a positive Pacific decadal oscillation index, which resulted in a large area of anomalous temperatures in Alaska and northern Canada. The 2007 cold anomaly was driven by a weakening of the circulation pattern in the subpolar Pacific sector and a strengthening of the Siberian high, with the strongest temperature anomalies in Alaska and northwestern Canada.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science