October in Alaska this year was more like September, with warmth and rain in place of autumn chill and snow. Wind anomalies related to unusual pressure patterns conspired to bring a steady stream of warm, wet air from southerly latitudes into Alaska.
Since 2002, Octobers in Barrow, Alaska—America's northernmost town—are regularly near the warmest on record, thanks to the retreat of sea ice. The warming hinders traditional hunting activities, makes the town more vulnerable to storm surge flooding, and thaws the frozen ground to greater depths, which destabilizes roads, house foundations, and traditional underground freezers.
Shallow melt ponds on the surface of consolidated sea ice act as skylights that promote massive under-ice phytoplankton blooms. These under-ice blooms may boost estimates of Arctic phytoplankton productivity by a factor of 10.
The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy has an archive of all its webinars on a variety of climate issues in the Alaska and the Arctic. The webinar series is also ongoing with new speakers and topics scheduled regularly.