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Utqiagvik, Alaska, Ground Zero for Climate Change

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but a computer algorithm at a weather station in the northern Alaskan town that used to be known as Barrow and is now named Utiagvik, doesn’t seem to mind. A recent story on Huffingtonpost by Ryan Grenoble told how the  National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) has been collecting weather data since the ‘twenties,” but equipment breaks down over time, so NCEI employs an algorithm to flag anomalous readings, and omit outliers from its reports. Recently NCEI noticed that data from Barrow was missing for over a year. Had their instruments broken down? Upon investigation NCEI scientists discovered that the temperatures had been recorded, but were so high that they weren’t reported. https://www.desmogblog.com/willfully-blind

Since 1979 when measurements began, average January-September temperatures in Barrow went up 1.9°F, about twice that in the rest of the U.S. But in October-December of this year, the temperature gain was 7.8, 6.9, and 4.7°F, so high the algorithm kicked in and withheld the data. Turns out the equipment wasn’t broken, the climate was. As the weather warmed up, more ice melted, which led to higher temperatures and still more ice melting, a cycle that led the Smithsonian to call Utiagvik (Barrow) “ground zero” for climate change. It’s a frightening glimpse into our future.

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