Alaska’s climate varies wildly by region and season from a temperate maritime climate at 51º north to the Arctic climate of Utqiagvik at 71.3 º northern latitude. Depending on latitude, elevation or a location adjacent to sea or inland, a multitude of very different climate zones are predominant.
Alaska’s climate is changing at unprecedented pace; check out our Alaska Climate Change page.
With approximately 6,640 miles of coastline and the surrounding waters: the Beaufort Sea to the north, the Chukchi Sea to the northwest, the Bering Sea to the west, and the Pacific Ocean to the south, a significant portion of Alaska is influenced by ocean waters and the seasonal distribution of sea ice.
The ocean has a moderating influence on the climate of coastal regions, which have warmer winters and cooler summers, as well as smaller diurnal (daily) temperature ranges.
Conversely, inland and locations cut off from the moderating influence of the waters experience a continental climate.
When the seas are ice-covered, the maritime influence is significantly less than when the water is ice-free.
The maximum sea ice extent in Alaska usually occurs in late February or March, near the end of the winter season. The sea ice melts over the course of the summer and reaches a minimum extent in August or September.