The Urban Heat Island Effect at Fairbanks, Alaska

N. Magee1, J. Curtis2, and G. Wendler2

(1) The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
(2) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks AK 99775


Using surface observation comparisons between Fairbanks and rurally situated Eielson Air Force Base in Interior Alaska, the growth of the Fairbanks heat island was studied for the time period 1949-1997. The climate records were examined to distinguish between a general warming trend and the changes due to an increasing heat island effect. Over the 49-year period, the population of Fairbanks grew by more than 500%, while the population of Eielson remained relatively constant. The mean annual heat island observed at the Fairbanks International Airport grew by 0.4°C, with the winter months experiencing a more significant value of 1.0°C. Primary focus was directed toward long-term heat island characterization based on season, wind speed, cloud cover, and time of day. In all cases, minimum temperatures were affected more than maxima and periods of calm or low wind speeds, winter clear sky conditions, and nighttime exhibited the largest heat island effects.

Financial support was obtained from the Alaska Climate Research Center, grant to the Univ of Alaska by the State of Alaska.
1999, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol 64(1,2), 39-47
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