Anchorage, Alaska, broke its own state record on the Fourth of July, recording a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit — five degrees above the previous record of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, set in 1969.
The National Weather Service in Anchorage warned of high temperatures earlier this week, explaining that a building high-pressure ridge would blanket the state in a heat wave. Climate researchers have said the unprecedented high temperatures are “unusual.”
“It’s entirely possible that the warmest temperature ever recorded in Anchorage could be exceeded three to five days in a row,” Brian Brettschneider, a climate researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told NBC News. “That’s the definition of unusual.”
The record-breaking day follows a string of extreme weather events for the state. Temperatures last month reached above average numbers, making it the warmest June on record. The state also saw growing reports of wildfires. These incidents are likely to continue occurring in July, experts say.
“These kind of extreme weather events become much more likely in a warming world,” Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks, Alaska, told NBC News. “Climate change is not causing it, but it is contributing to it. When other pieces line up like high pressure over the state and very warm sea surface temperatures, all the pieces fit together and make these extreme, or even unprecedented, events that much more likely.”
Across the Arctic, Alaska’s story is a familiar one. As ThinkProgress previously reported, high air temperatures in the past five years have caused Arctic sea ice has to rapidly disintegrate. That melting Arctic ice has fueled more extreme weather, faster increases in sea levels, and more rapid disintegration of the carbon-rich Arctic permafrost, which leads to faster global warming.