The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska

G. Wendler*, L. Chen, B. Moore
Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA.

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© 2012 Wendler et al.;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA; Tel: 907 474 7378; E-mails:


During the first decade of the 21st century most of Alaska experienced a cooling shift, modifying the long-term warming trend, which has been about twice the global change up to this time. All of Alaska cooled with the exception of Northern Regions. This trend was caused by a change in sign of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which became dominantly negative, weakening the Aleutian Low. This weakening results in less relatively warm air being advected from the Northern Pacific. This transport is especially important in winter when the solar radiation is weak. It is during this period that the strongest cooling was observed. In addition, the cooling was especially pronounced in Western Alaska, closest to the area of the center of the Aleutian Low. The changes seen in the reanalyzed data were confirmed from surface observations, both in the decrease of the North-South atmospheric pressure gradient, as well as the decrease in the mean wind speeds for stations located in the Bering Sea area.

Keywords: Climate change, Alaska, Temperature change, PDO.