Temperature and Precipitation of Alaska: 50 Year Trend Analysis

J. Stafford1, G. Wendler, and J. Curtis

Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks Alaska 99775


Temperature and precipitation records from 1949 to 1998 were examined for 25 stations throughout the State of Alaska. Mean, maxima, and minima temperatures, diurnal temperature range, and total precipitation were analyzed for linear trends using least squares regressions. Annual and seasonal mean temperature increases were found throughout the entire state, and the majority were found to be statistically significant at the 95% level or better. The highest increases were found in winter in the Interior region (2.2°C) for the 50 year period of record. Decreases in annual and seasonal mean diurnal temperature range were also found, of which only about half were statistically significant. A state-wide decrease in annual mean diurnal temperature range was found to be 0.3°C, with substantially higher decreases in the South/Southeastern region in winter.

Increases were found in total precipitation for 3 of the 4 seasons throughout most of Alaska, while summer precipitation showed decreases at many stations. Few of the precipitation trends were found to be statistically significant, due to high interannual variability. Barrow, our only station in the Arctic region, shows statistically significant decreases in annual and winter total precipitation. These findings are largely in agreement with existing literature, although they do contradict some of the precipitation trends predicted by the CO2-doubling GCM's.

This study was supported by a grant to the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska by the State of Alaska and by a National Science Foundation REU Grant to the Geophysical Institute.

(1) Permanent address: Alaska Pacific University, 4101 University Drive, Box #429, Anchorage, AK 99508-4672, (e-mail: jstafford@rocketmail.com)
2000, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol 67(1,2), 33-44
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