James E. Overland, a research oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would agree with the off-kilter part. But he would add mysterious to the mix, too.
Overland argues that Alaska’s very cool heat wave is not evidence of climate change but rather the next stage in a long-term weather pattern that began with six years of warming in the Bering Sea and southern Alaska, followed by six cold years.
“This year, then, was the breakdown of the string of cold years,” Overland said. “What all the scientists are wondering now [is]: Is this just one warm year? Could we flip back to a cold sequence again, or is this the start of a warm sequence? … We don’t know, and it makes a big difference.”