Alaska Geospatial Climate Animations
of Monthly Temperature and Precipitation

Recent advances in spatial climate modeling make it possible to view animated monthly maps of Alaska's temperature and precipitation. Monthly weather station data and other point measurements (1961-1990 Normals) were spatially distributed across Alaska with the PRISM model, developed at the Spatial Climate Analysis Service, Oregon State University.

The maps presented here were made from the previously created PRISM grids using a Geographic Information System (GIS). Separate animations are available for temperature and precipitation. The animations reveal patterns in both time and space related to the seasons, latitude, elevation, coastal effects, rain shadows, and other environmental parameters in a region of climatic extremes.


The following QuickTime .mov files require QuickTime Player for Windows or Macintosh. Click on the images or links to view. Right-click or option-click to download for later use.
(large window, 6.3 MB)
(large window, 5.9 MB)

The animations are also available in smaller format (for faster download or for small screens), and in the form of PowerPoint files.
(small window, 2.4 MB)
(small window, 2.2 MB)
(PowerPoint file, 6.0 MB)
(PowerPoint file, 5.7 MB)

Feel free to download the animations and images for use in presentations. For use on a website or in a publication, please contact William Manley for a one-time copyright release. Please cite: Manley, W.F., and Daly, C., 2005, Alaska Geospatial Climate Animations of Monthly Temperature and Precipitation: INSTAAR, University of Colorado,


  • To start the animation, click on the "play" button:
  • You can use the space bar to pause and restart.
  • You can grab the "slider" at the bottom of the animation window, and move it left and right to manually control which frames you view.
  • You can also move left and right through the frames with the arrow keys.
  • You can view the animations in "full-screen mode" if you pay for an upgrade to QuickTime Pro, or when viewing the PowerPoint versions of the animations.
  • Click on the links below (under "Climate Patterns") for an explanation of the animations.


The Alaska Geospatial Climate Animations were created for scientific visualization of patterns in long-term average temperature and precipitation -- across the state's various landscapes, and month-to-month through the seasons. As such they will help with modeling or interpretation of modern climate phenomena, as well as paleoclimatic records. The animations should also be useful for earth science education and public outreach.


Learn more about the animations, and what they reveal about Alaska's climate patterns in space and time. The pages below describe such features as seasonality, continentality, coastal effects, inversions, elevation effects, rain shadows, and other phenomena:


Click on the links below for fly-through 3D movies of Mean Annual Temperature and Total Annual Precipitation:
(4.1 MB)
(2.3 MB)

These movies were created as part of EarthSLOT, a 3D GIS and terrain visualization application. Through an online interactive interface, you can fly wherever you'd like -- across Mean Annual Temperature and Total Annual Precipitation -- by taking the following steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on "Fly Now!"
  3. Install the free TerraExplorer viewer application.
  4. Under the "Climate" heading, click on the links for "Mean annual air temperatures " or "Annual precipitation".

If you already have TerraExplorer installed, you can click directly on "agca_MA_Temp.FLY" or "agca_TA_Precip.FLY".


Learn more about the PRISM data and how the animations were created.


Please note that the monthly animations do not illustrate warming and other effects of climate change observed for the last several decades. For more information on this topic, please see a recent report, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), and the Alaska Climate Research Center's spotlight on Temperature Change in Alaska.



The Alaska Geospatial Climate Animations are based in part on work supported by the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, Arctic System Science Program (Grant No. OPP-0100120). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The animations wouldn't be possible of course without the PRISM data and the pioneering spatial modeling efforts of the Spatial Climate Analysis Service. Thanks also go to Peter Prokein and Matt Nolan (University of Alaska Fairbanks) for assistance with the 3D visualizations, as part of the EarthSLOT project.