Anchorage, Alaska had never recorded a 90-degree day until the Fourth of July, when the city shattered its previous record high of 85 degrees, The New York Times reports.
The city was forced to call off its Fourth of July fireworks display amid wildfire concerns as temperatures reached unprecedented levels. Officials say the previously unheard-of 90-degree temperatures may last several days.
The heat wave has been blamed on climate change, which has disrupted temperature trends throughout Alaska and caused massive amounts of ice to disappear from the Bering Sea.
“This is unprecedented,” Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz told The Times. “I tease people that Anchorage is the coolest city in the country — and climatically that is true — but right now we are seeing record heat.”
Temperatures throughout Alaska 20 degrees above normal:
This has been a hot year for Alaska. The state had its warmest March on record, seeing temperatures as much as 20 degrees about their normal rate in some locations. The state also had its second-warmest June on record.
Anchorage alone has had 34 consecutive days of above-average temperatures and Kotzebue, in northwestern Alaska, has seen 105 consecutive days of above-average temperatures.
Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country, according to the National Climate Assessment, as springtime temperatures averaged two to five degrees higher than those 50 years ago.
“One of the more dramatic changes in the state is the retreat of ice on the Bering and Chukchi Seas, which this year disappeared weeks earlier than normal in some areas,” The Times reported. “Ice reflects sunlight more than open water, which can absorb it and contribute to warmer air temperature above the surface. Surface temperatures on the seas are about four degrees above normal, while some areas are departing the norm by 10 degrees.”
“For sea surface temperatures, that’s just astronomical,” Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, told the outlet.
June was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet:
June was the hottest month ever recorded, according to European forecasters. Temperatures throughout Europe spikes by as much as 18 degrees above normal and temperatures in France hit 115 degrees, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country.
“A preliminary analysis of the heat wave in France found that climate change had made it at least five times more likely than a heat wave would have been otherwise,” The New York Times reported.