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”→
‘We now know that salmon have been consumed by North American humans at least 11,500 years ago …’
Digging deep into the remains of an ancient kitchen, archaeologists say that early residents of North America likely fished for salmon starting at the end of the last ice age, just as they started colonizing the continent.
FRISCO — Secretary of State John Kerry probably expressed what many people feel about climate change when he took to the podium at the GLACIER conference in Alaska Monday, describing the helplessness that can take hold when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem.
“I have struggled for years, as I’m sure many of you have, with how you adequately take an issue of this magnitude, this kind of challenge, and put it in terms that average folks can really grab onto, where it isn’t so intimidating,” Kerry said.
But that can’t be an excuse to do nothing, Kerry continued, describing the Alaska conference as an important stepping stone on the way to critical climate talk in Paris coming up in December.
“Everywhere I travel, leaders and average folks talk to me about the impacts of climate change and what they feel and see is happening to their lives in one particular part of the world or another. And the Arctic is so important for us to visit and understand because the Arctic is in many ways a thermostat … and yet we already see is having a profound impact on the rest of the planet,” he said.
Kerry also referred to concerns about melting permafrost, which could release heat-trapping gases in such great volumes that it could trigger runaway global warming far beyond and scenario currently represented in climate models.
“The bottom line is that climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about. It is now. It is happening now. And I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the word should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today,” Kerry said, describing how Alaska is a poster child for those challenges.
“And unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that we’re seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world,” he said.