Temperatures in Alaska and Australia rose to record-breaking levels last month, igniting fresh concerns among climate scientists as a new report found that Canada is rapidly warming faster than the global average.
In Alaska, the northernmost state is experiencing record-high temperatures earlier in the year than ever before, with multiple cities, including Fairbanks, having experienced its warmest March on record, according to the National Weather Service.
Last week, temperatures in the southeastern town of Klawock hit a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That unusually warm temperature was last felt on March 31, 2016, immediately before the planet experienced its warmest April on record, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Meanwhile at the Anchorage International Airport, temperatures reached 50 degrees on Saturday, making the 18th straight day that the mercury rose above 40 degrees, CBS News reported.
From September to March of this year, the mean monthly temperatures at both the Anchorage International Airport and the Fairbanks International Airport were also the warmest on record, the National Weather Service Anchorage tweeted on Tuesday.
To put that into perspective, in the case of Anchorage, the maximum seven-month average temperature during those months was higher than any other year since 1952, when records for Anchorage began. In the case of Fairbanks, that same average was higher than any other year since 1929, when records for Fairbanks began, the NWS said.
Amid rising temperatures, meteorologists are forecasting what they believe will be the fourth earliest snowmelt on record across Anchorage, after the snow melted to less than an inch on Saturday ― 18 days earlier than when snowmelt on average occurs, on April 17. The earliest snowmelt ever recorded was March 22, 2016, the NWS Anchorage tweeted.
“Between a rapidly changing environment and lack of societal response, I’m very concerned,” climate expert Rick Thoman, of NOAA’s Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, told CBS News last week.
According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, Alaska “is among the fastest warming regions on Earth,” with it warming two to three times faster than the rest of the lower 48 states. This faces it with “a myriad of issues associated with a changing climate,” the NCA said, including a retreat of sea ice, a rise in storm surge, coastal flooding and erosion, and thawing permafrost and glaciers.
The NCA’s report noted that since the 1990s, Alaska has experienced high temperature records three times more than record low temperatures and in 2015 nine times more frequently.
Australia meanwhile sizzled to 118 degrees last month.
In the opposite hemisphere, Australia, as a whole, experienced its warmest March on record, with temperatures in one area reaching 118°F. This record follows Sydney experiencing its hottest day in 78 years back in January when temperatures hit 117°F.
March’s mean maximum and minimum temperatures were also above average for nearly the entire country, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Monday. The national mean temperature was 3.6°F (2.13°C) above average.
Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said it wasn’t just the hottest March but the hottest start to a new year.
“It’s come in about 2.2 degrees (4°F) above the long term for the first quarter of the year,” he told Australia’s ABC News. “That’s nearly a degree hotter than the previous hottest first quarter of the year.”
That change, he said, is nothing ordinary.
“Even for an individual month that would be a very significant margin, but to be breaking a three-month-period record by nearly a degree is something which we would see very rarely, if ever, in a continent the size of Australia,” he said.
Records for individual hot days were also seen in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland.
The hottest March temperature recorded anywhere in the world was in Roebourne, Western Australia. There, the mercury hit 118.6°F (48.1°C) on the 10th, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
That record surpasses a previous 44-year record held by Mexico, a bureau forecaster told Western Australia’s PerthNow.
Canada faces its own climate concerns.
Back up north, scientists in Canada on Monday released a damning report that found that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and that the change is “effectively irreversible.”
According to the government report from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average temperature in Canada is 3°F (1.7°C) higher today than it was 70 years ago, while the average global temperature is up 1.4°F (0.8°C). The Canadian Arctic has meanwhile risen by 4°F (2.3°C).
The rising temperatures threaten species that rely upon sea ice, snow and permafrost for survival while improving conditions for pests and diseases that Canada isn’t used to seeing.
“We are already seeing the effects of widespread warming in Canada,” said Elizabeth Bush, a climate-science adviser at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “It’s clear, the science supports the fact that adapting to climate change is an imperative. Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions.”
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