Alaska's Hottest Month on Record: Melting Sea Ice, Wildfires and Unexpected Die-Offs

Arctic sea ice is at a record low for this time of year, and the usual buffer that helps keep Alaska cool is gone.

The temperatures have soared as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, seals and other animals are inexplicably dying, and the once-dependable sea ice is long gone from the shores. Welcome to summer in Alaska in the Anthropocene.

Alaska just recorded its warmest July—and warmest month—on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday.

At a time when the Lower 48 states were clocking average temperatures 1°F above normal, Alaska's temperatures were 5.4°F above average and 0.8°F more than the previous warmest month, which was July 2004.

With sea ice at a record low, the usual buffer that helps keep Alaska cool is gone, said Karin Gleason, a climate scientist with NOAA. "That exacerbates temperatures, because when you don't have sea ice near the coastlines, then the temperature of the continent can warm sooner and earlier than it typically would."

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