Climate Division Data Now Available for Alaska
We’re announcing the release of new climate divisions and associated data for these 13 divisions in Alaska, which will include maximum, minimum, and average temperatures as well as average precipitation. These new Alaska data will be embedded in our climate divisional dataset for the contiguous United States—nClimDiv—and will be featured in products including Climatological Rankings and Climate at a Glance. The data will also be used in our monthly climate reports beginning with the February 2015 U.S. Climate Report. In the next few months, we also plan to implement operational climatological ranking maps for temperature and precipitation in Alaska.
Encompassing over 660,000 square miles—more than twice the size of Texas—with over 6,600 miles of coastline and a wide range of topography, Alaska has many different climates. Our new divisional data will help scientists better understand the various climates in Alaska as well as how they are changing over time. Additionally, the new robust divisional database will allow for increased seasonal forecasting services from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and will provide new ways to monitor hydrological conditions and drought within the state.
The new Alaska data do differ somewhat from the previous contiguous U.S. divisional data. Spanning 1925 to the present, the Alaska divisional data are based on a similar methodology as the contiguous U.S. dataset but use 1971–2000 Climate Normals to determine differences from average. To learn more about the methodology behind the creation of these new data, see Climate Divisions for Alaska Based on Objective Methods in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.