Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Warmest Week of Record in Inuvik

This isn't quite Alaska weather and climate, but isn't far off and seems notable enough to write about.  The Canadian town of Inuvik, close to the Mackenzie River and not far from the Arctic Ocean, recorded their warmest week on record for the week ending Friday, August 9.  Below are the top 6 warmest weeks (non-overlapping; see a note at the bottom about the station locations):

August 3-9, 2013      71.9 °F
June 30-July 6, 1998      71.4 °F
July 10-16, 1989      70.6 °F
July 17-23, 2001      70.6 °F
July 28-August 3, 1994      70.5 °F
June 26-July 2, 1982      69.7 °F

As we've seen for Alaska locations this summer (notably Fairbanks), it was the high overnight minimum temperatures that really set this event apart from others in the past.  The highest week-average minimum temperature broke the previous record by a large margin:

August 4-10, 2013      62.0 °F
June 30-July 6, 1998      59.9 °F
July 10-16, 1989      59.3 °F
July 30-August 5, 1994      59.3 °F
July 17-23, 2001      59.3 °F
July 2-8, 2012      59.1 °F

The weekly maximum temperature was the third highest on record.

Besides the event itself, it's interesting how late in the year it occurred, with average temperatures about 3 °F lower than at the climatological peak around July 10.

The chart below shows the minimum temperature observations since May 1;  most of the summer was not outstandingly warm until August arrived.

**Note: I've combined data from Inuvik Airport (1957-2006) and the Inuvik climate/upper air site (2004-present).  The two sites are just a couple of km apart, with the climate site being 35 m higher.  I verified that during the brief 2004-2006 period of overlap, the June-August daily minimum temperatures had almost no systematic difference (climate site less than 0.1 °F warmer), whereas the maximum temperatures were warmer by 1.5 °F on average at the airport.  This makes the record all the more significant, given that observations are now taken at the climate site.


  1. All this summer talk makes me want to spell out a wintery comment. The first or second short impulses of "arctic" air have been rolling off greenland. When I was in college 10 years ago I used to watch for the "critical" tipping point where solar input over Greenland was less than overall radiation loss (this is closely correlated to sun angle but is moderated by storm systems). (Usually around late July to mid August) When this happened cold air masses (relative to everything else in the area) would form. As these airmasses increased in depth then would eventually flow out north over the arctic sea ice. Over the arctic sea ice now days there are webcams and you can see that the melt ponds are freezing over and surface air temperatures are dropping down into the mid 20's. Shortly thereafter "modified Greenland arctic air" over the sea ice would also start to deepen and loose energy. And thus winter is born in the high arctic.

  2. Mike,

    That is a very interesting and dare I say poetic description of how the seasonal change gets under way in the Arctic basin. Makes sense that cooling over Greenland would be a trigger. Do you have any useful links for watching these events unfold?

    I think Gary linked to this page a while ago, but I occasionally look at this site showing the Arctic basin average temperature:


    If the data are reliable, it seems to have been a cold summer, with an early onset of autumn freezing conditions.

    1. Here's another from the link above:


      Select the desired time interval and let it build a loop of SST or anomalies while the ice is still liquid.


  3. Seems like my old standby from CPC (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z500_nh_anim.shtml) shows some blue dingers over the Pole and NW of Alaska.

    We need some equivalent or better animated link, maybe at lower altitudes, to display the inevitable curse as the sun slips away.

    OOOps: http://wxmaps.org/pix/temp2.html What's that going on over Greenland?


  4. Thanks Gary. Go to summit Greenland weather data. It is a treasure trove for the curious. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/arctic/observatories/summit/browser/#content
    You can watch short term temperature trends ( a few days, etc) and watch the creation of cold air masses. The websites you provided also are a great watching tool as you will see that usually when Greenland warms in the fall cold air is transported/migrates north over the arctic sea ice.
    This link takes you to several live surface sea level weather data for the high arctic.

    1. Thanks Mike for the links to Polar weather. The webcams are an interesting view. Will explore them both more.

      Is there an overall or master website for Polar weather and links you've accessed? This NSF site seems like a good start:



    2. Thanks Mike and Gary.

      I was interested enough to put together a loop of recent temperatures, see


      I'll try to set it up as a javascript animation so that you can stop it or go frame by frame. Also, it should update every day from now on.

    3. Excellent display Richard. That's just the sort of time/date based info I was looking for. It'll be great to follow as the cool wet stuff grows around us.