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Alaska Region

NOAA/NCEI's Alaska Region Climate Services deliver tools and information to communities and businesses to reduce climate risk and improve resiliency. Alaska is vulnerable to climate change. Climate trends over the last three decades have shown considerable warming. This has already led to major impacts on the environment and the economy. If present climate trends continue, these impacts will be exacerbated and will hit the state’s strongly natural resource-dependent economy hard. Predominant economic activities include oil production along the Arctic coast (20% of total U.S. production), fishing in the Bering Sea and off the south coast, forestry in the southeast, agriculture and forestry in the interior, and a growing tourism industry. Subsistence livelihoods in native communities throughout the state depend on fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife and play a very important social and cultural role.

Alaska’s ecosystems are also threatened. They range from cool spruce-hemlock forest in the southeast and south-central coastal regions to boreal spruce forest in the interior and south-central region. Further north, tundra meadows and barrens dominate. Large areas of land are set aside in national parks, wilderness areas, and nature preserves. Small areas of land are in agriculture, with rather larger areas used for pasture and reindeer grazing. The marine ecosystems of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska are among the most productive in the world and are highly susceptible to climate change.

Recent Activities

  • Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlooks
    NOAA’s Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlooks draw on sources across NOAA to provide concise and accessible climate information for various regions of the United States, including the Alaska Region. These syntheses discuss the major climate events during the past three months and contain historical seasonal assessments as well as climate predictions and projections.

Observed Climate Trends

Alaska’s enormous size encompasses extreme climatic differences. The southern coastal margin is climatically similar to the Pacific Northwest, although cooler and with longer winters. North of the Alaska Range, the climate is continental, with moderate summers, very cold winters, and annual precipitation of 8–16 in (20–40 cm). North of the Brooks Range, an arctic semiarid climate prevails, with less than 8 in (20 cm) of annual precipitation and snow on the ground for nine months of the year. There are widespread areas of permafrost, large glaciated areas throughout the state, and extensive sea ice along the western and northern coasts.

Alaska has experienced the largest regional warming of any state in the United States. There has been extensive melting of glaciers, thawing of permafrost, and reduction of sea ice. The Alaskan regional warming is part of a larger warming trend throughout the Arctic. El Niño and the interdecadal Arctic Oscillation strongly affect Alaska, bringing warmer and wetter winters to coastal Alaska in their warm phases and cooler, drier winters in their cool phases.

NCEI's Regional Climate Services Program works to provide the data, tools, and information that helps private and public sector constituents in Alaska reduce their risk and improve their resiliency to the impacts of climate variability and change.

Alaska Region RCSD – James Partain

James Partian

James Partain is the Regional Climate Services Director for the Alaska Region, based in Anchorage, Alaska. Since 1986, James has worked to improve the provision of environmental information to NOAA customers and stakeholders working for the National Weather Service in locations spanning the United States from Guam to Washington, DC, including other stops in Reno, Nevada; Great Falls, Montana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Honolulu, Hawaii. James is passionate about anything relating to the weather and climate, and he loves talking about those subjects with anyone who will listen! James holds a BS in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.

James Partain
NOAA Regional Climate Services Director, Alaska Region
4210 University Dr
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 1-907-786-6773
Email: james.partain@noaa.gov