2016 shatters record for Alaska's warmest year

 Chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (KTUU)
Published: Jan. 2, 2017 at 4:32 PM AKST
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Across Alaska, 2016 went down as the warmest year on record.

In 2016, at least 14 communities around the state recorded their highest average temperatures ever. That includes Anchorage, where the average temperature was 4.5 degrees above normal. And in some places like Utqiaġvik, on the North Slope, the average temperature increased more than 7 degrees.

Climatologists Brian Brettschneider says the 4 to 7 degree temperature increase, for most of the state, has caused a cascading affect on things like infrastructure, the arctic ice pack, permafrost, tree lines on the mountains and the subsistence way of life.

“It really effects everything about the state," said Brettschneider. "Everything you can think of is determined by the temperature and precipitation patterns, and when those get really out of whack, then things can really change in a big hurry.”

In 2014, the state of Alaska recorded its warmest year on record - records that in some cases have been kept since the 1920's. 2015 was another warm year, before 2016 temperatures shattered the record.

"Three years in a row now, the three warmest temperatures on record," Brettschneider said. "It doesn’t bode well."

Experts with the National Weather Service say there is no end in sight for warm temperatures in Alaska; however, Brettschneider says it's unlikely we will set any new warm weather records in 2017. He says 2017 is unlikely to break the bench mark set in 2016, because there's no El Niño, which he says helped tip the scale towards record high temperatures.