Map of Anchorage area
Anchorage station history
Anchorage temperature history

Map of Anchorage (SAR image)

SAR image of Anchorage area. IA approxomates current instrument site at Point Campbell (International Airport), MF shows older site at Merrill Field. Downtown sites are between the two. Note that the bright, oddly shaped areas below Anchorage are tidal mud flats, not true land areas. For scale and coastline reference, here is a second map:

Map of Anchorage, USGS Anchorage map sheet, 1962 revised 1985, badly out of date on cultural features. Note that the current instrument site is well off the left edge of this map, on the Tyonek map sheet. Squares are townships, 6 miles on a side; elevations are in feet. Old Merrill field site is visible about an inch below Elmendorf AFB. Area marked "mud" is tidal flat of Turnagain Arm. The bluish area running SW-NE north of Spenard is part of the Knik Arm.

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Anchorage Station History

Anchorage is located at the head of Cook Inlet, on a triangle of rolling land bounded by Turnagain Arm on the SW, Knik Arm on the NE, and the Chugach Range on the E. Current coordinates 61 degrees 10' N, 150 degrees 1' W, elevation 114 feet. Present site is at west end of International Airport, near shore of Cook Inlet and west point of triangle. Opened 9/3/1914 at 61 degrees 14' N, 149 degrees 52' W, elevation 40 feet, 1000 feet north of mouth of Ship Creek. Moved 1.0 miles NE to Government Hill 12/15/22, no elevation change recorded. 3/21/23 moved 1.3 miles SW, to NE corner 4th and F streets, 78 feet increase in elevation to 118 feet. Move to S side of 4th between F and G streets 5/25/26. Move to SE corner 4th and F streets 11/4/38, temperature raised to 6 feet. Move 0.1 mile NW(?) to roof of Federal Building at 4th and F street 10/21/40. Move 1.7 miles East to Merrill Field 2/3/43. Moved 6 miles SW to International Airport Express Air Teminal 11/1/53. LCD says data from extreme thermometers through 6/30/64. Move 0.1 mile SE 9/30/55; slight move north 6/1/60. Conflicting data on installation of hygrothermometer at that time. LCD says hygrothermometer installed 6/1/60, moved 2500 feet SW 10/6/61, moved 1500 feet NE 2/1/64, but did not become data source until 7/1/64; digital history says move was 0.1 mile W 10/6/61. Relocation to Point Campbell (1.1 mile W) after 3/27 earthquake 4/2/64, but unclear if temperature instruments moved at that time.. First mention of hygrothermometers (HO6 series) in digital history is 4/2/64. Slight thermometer moves 7/7/64 and 10/12/70. Hygrothermometer moved 1000 feet W 7/27/72 (LCD). Hygrothermometer changed to HO8 series 11/6/84.

Observation time 6 pm until 7/1/29; midnight thereafter but effectively 11 pm 150 WMT starting November 1983.

Observer USWS/USWB since 1929; identity of earlier observers unclear. Record length fairly good, starting February 1916. Only missing data thereafter are the January maximum in 1926 and a gap from December 1928 through June 1929. Site continuity a serious problem. Comparison of temperature records from a site near Merril Field, 7th and C street, and the current official site during air pollution episodes during a study in the 80's suggest that the current airport site was considerably warmer than the downtown core of the heat island during cold outbreaks, probably due to the fact that Cook Inlet in winter, while it has a substantial fraction of ice cover, maintains some open water as well due to the large tidal range. Winter soundings from the Point Campbell site have been observed with superadiabatic lapse rates when arctic air flow from interior Alaska crosses Cook Inlet to the airport, suggesting strong heating from the Inlet. In spring, melting ice floes probably refrigerate the area. Given the combination of site changes and a probable strong heat island, the record must be considered highly questionable. The disagreement between the station history given in the Local Climatological Data annual summaries and that in the digitized record needs to be cleared up.

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Station Temperature History

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Geophysical InstituteInt'l Arctic Research Center