Urban Climates in Alaska

Carl Benson, Sue Ann Bowling and Gunter Weller

Most Alaskans live in urban areas and even more of them are likely to do so in the future, following a world-wide trend. Urban areas in Alaska, as elsewhere, produce their own climates which may be very different from the climate of the surrounding countryside. Buildings and roads affect the radiation absorbed from the sun, the wind regime and the evaporation of moisture. More importantly, waste heat from buildings, power generation and cars, and pollutants from the same sources give the winter climate in Alaskan cities some unique characteristics. Textbooks on urban climatology rarely mention the Arctic or subarctic yet urban climate there can be modified by man far more than in the large cities at more temperate latitudes. Studies of these urban climates therefore hold vital clues to the development and settlement of the North.

Published 1983 in Environments 15, 23-36