The Cook Inlet Region

The Cook Inlet region includes the most densly populated part of Alaska. Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, is located at the head of Cook Inlet, while Kenai is about halfway up the Inlet and Homer is almost on the open Gulf of Alaska, only marginally sheltered by the Kenai Mountains that occupy the southeastern portion of the Kenai Peninsula. North of Anchorage, Matanuska is in the broad Susitna valley, within an easy hour's drive of Anchorage. Talkeetna is another hour north, still in the Susitna valley, while Puntilla is well upstream on a small tributary, almost at the crest of the Alaska Range in Rainy Pass (winter trail access only). The region thus includes stations with very large differences along the maritime-continental gradient. Most of the region is forrested up to a tree line that varies from to, and mean annual temperatures are generally above freezing with the exception of the one high-altitude station, Puntilla. Permafrost is sporadic and generally confined to high elevations and/or north-facing slopes. Precipitation, while not as high as that in the southwest, south central, or southeast regions, is substantially greater than in the Interior region.

The more oceanic stations may have rain year around, though they are subject to snow as well in the winter. As can be seen by comparing the individual station plots, the more maritime the station, the higher the mean annual temperature.

Summer temperatures, however, reverse for the most part, with the inland stations (with the exception of Puntilla) being warmer in the summer months.

Puntilla, because it is so different from the rest of the stations in the region, was left out of the regional adjusted average. (This average is adjusted for individual stations dropping in and out of the regional net, but not for changes in station location, surroundings, instrumentation and observation time.)

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Geophysical InstituteInt'l Arctic Research Center