The Bristol Bay Times

Climate change and El Niño conditions could spell warm winter for the Aleutians

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting warmer than average temperatures in the Aleutians this winter. According to NOAA’s annual winter weather report, El Niño conditions and climate change are to blame for the warm temperatures.

El Niño typically causes warmer and drier weather in the northern United States and Canada. However, the warming trend is being intensified by climate change which increases the risk of extreme weather events, such as heavy rain and stronger wind storms.

The federal agency predicts above average temperatures for all Aleutian Islands east of Attu — the westernmost point in Alaska — as well as most of Alaska.

According to NOAA, Alaska is particularly sensitive to warmer temperatures because of its northern latitude and natural resource-dependent economy.

Sarah Kapnick, chief scientist for NOAA, said even though the winter outlook is a scientific prediction, people should continue to follow weather forecasts because they provide more up-to-date and specific information.

“There shouldn’t be an expectation that [an El Niño] will always be like what has happened in the past … in terms of the impacts,” Kapnick said.

NOAA’s seasonal predictions provide guidance for many industries, including fisheries, tourism and energy.