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Fairbanks Is Getting Wetter

Don and Karen Cornelius

Climate records indicate the Fairbanks area has shifted wetter over the last 5 years. Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy climate specialist Rick Thoman says the multi-year trend is record breaking.

"We are now at the wettest five-year block in the climate record, for our area.”

Thoman says the statistic is being driven by more extreme rain and snow events.

"Increased frequency and magnitute of these big precipitation events is occurring in many parts of the world. That's exactly wahat we expect to happen in a warming climate. With more water vapor in the atmosphere, when all the atmospheric ingredients come together, they are able to squeeze out more moisture. And that is not confined to Alaska; that is being seen in most of the world, and we are certainly sharing in that here.”

Citing analysis by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Thoman notes that June 2020 was the wettest in 96 years for the Southeast Interior region, which includes Fairbanks, the Upper Tanana Valley and Copper River Basin.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.