A federal recovery plan for endangered polar bears won’t halt the threat of climate change, but it could help dwindling populations of the great Arctic predators persist in the small patches of habitat that will remain after global warming melts most of the polar sea ice.
The plan, released Jan. 9, calls for reducing human-bear conflicts, collaboratively managing subsistence harvest, protecting denning habitat, and minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills. Most of these actions are already underway, in partnership with Alaska Native communities, nonprofit groups, and industry representatives who participated in the plan’s creation. The plan also calls for increased monitoring and research. Continue reading “Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan”→
Alaska’s native bears and wolves — at least those living in national wildlife refuges — may get a break from the federal predator control program, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week finalized new regulations that ban the controversial practice of culling carnivores through aerial gunning, baiting, trapping, and killing mother bears and cubs and wolves and pups in their dens.
Conservation advocates question plan for expanded fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet
Environmental advocates are warning that a plan to expand offshore fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet threatens a local population of beluga whales, considered to be among the most endangered whales in the world.
Alaska makes up about 18 percent of the total U.S. land area but accounts for about 35 percent of the total carbon stock. The future of that carbon has big implications for global climate. If it’s released quickly, it could drive up global temperatures more than expected. And the carbon stored in high latitude ecosystems is considered to be vulnerable to climate change because of global warming. Continue reading “Climate: USGS measures Alaska land carbon stock”→
New NASA study takes detailed look at increased vegetation growth in Alaska and Canada
After taking a close look at 87,000 satellite images, NASA scientists say the northern parts of Canada and Alaska are getting greener. Shrubs are sprouting in grassy tundra zones and shrubs are growing bigger and denser — changes that could have impacts on regional water, energy and carbon cycles.
The new NASA study adds more detail to previous research that reached similar conclusions and could help inform climate scientists about how the changes will affect global temperatures. The study covered the timespan between 1984 and 2012. The images came from the joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat program, which provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land vegetation in existence. Continue reading “Global warming is greening up the far north”→
Near-surface permafrost areas could shrink by 16-24 percent
Global warming is likely to take a big bite out of Alaska’s permafrost the next few decades, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after analyzing new satellite data.
The maps suggest that the near-surface permafrost that presently underlies 38 percent of boreal and arctic Alaska would be reduced by 16 to 24 percent by the end of the 21st century under widely accepted climate scenarios. Permafrost declines are more likely in central Alaska than northern Alaska. Continue reading “USGS study projects Alaska permafrost losses”→