Tag Archives: Climate Change

A Troubling Decline in the Caribou Herds of the Arctic

From Yale Environment 360, Thursday, September 23, 2010:

In late July, a group of Inuit hunters set off by boat along the west coast of Banks Island to search for Peary caribou, which inhabit the Arctic archipelago of Canada. Roger Kuptana, a 62-year-old Inuit who had grown up on the island, didn’t give his fellow hunters much chance of success in their hunt for the animals, the smallest caribou sub-species in North America.

“I think it’s a waste of gas,” Kuptana told me when I visited his modest home in Sachs Harbour, a traditional community of roughly 100 people on the island, not far from the Yukon-Alaska border. “There used to be a lot of caribou around here when I grew up. But now you have to travel pretty far north to find them on the island. It’s not just here. It seems like this happening everywhere.”

As it turned out, Kuptana was right; the Inuit hunters found no Peary caribou, despite three days of searching. The hunters’ predicament is familiar to the Eskimos of Alaska, other Inuit of Canada and Greenland, and the Nenets, Komi, Evenks, Chukotkans, and indigenous groups of northern Russia and Scandinavia. Throughout the Arctic, many of the great caribou and reindeer herds that once roamed the treeless tundra, providing an indispensible source of meat and clothing for aboriginal groups, are in free-fall.

Continue reading: A Troubling Decline in the Caribou Herds of the Arctic

Climate models show Fairbanks shifting to Saskatoon-like conditions by 2100

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, September 17, 2010:

When Rich Boone looks at the future of Fairbanks, he can’t help but envision the canola fields outside Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

That’s because a projected warming trend in Alaska could eventually give the Interior the same climate characteristics that exist in that Canadian Midwestern agricultural city. Boone, a professor and ecosystem ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, used that example during a Wednesday presentation on climate change science.

Fairbanks faces a roughly 11-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase by 2100 if moderate climate-change models are used, Boone said. If that holds true, the Interior will no longer be characterized by permafrost and boreal forests.

“I think that’s very realistic,” Boone said. “We’d be in a zone that would potentially be prairie.”

Warming models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict worldwide temperatures will increase by about 6 degrees Fahrenheit during the next century. Since Arctic regions have been warming at roughly twice the rate of other parts of the globe, especially big changes could be ahead for residents of the north.

'In a Time of Change' encourages dialogue on climate change

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, September 10, 2010:

Art and science are not mutually exclusive disciplines and the artists and scientists behind “In a Time of Change: Envisioning the Future” are going to prove it.

A project in two parts — a gallery exhibition and a stage performance — has the intention of changing the ongoing dialogue on climate change, according to scientist and performer Mary Beth Leigh.

“It’s how we’re seeing the effects of climate change,” she said. “And trying to figure out how the future might look.”

Funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, applications for the program were accepted early this year. Then this summer, dozens of artists chosen were given the chance to see what climate change scientists are doing to gather data at the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research program. Together, in small groups of about 12, they would go out to the site and look at how climate change has been affecting the area.

Those trips were a chance for the artists to see what was happening in the environment and a chance for them to interact with scientists studying climate change.

Long hot summer of fire and floods fit climate change predictions

From The Associated Press, Thursday, August 12, 2010:

Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.

The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says — although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.

The experts now see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They’ll discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under United Nations, U.S. and British government sponsorship.

“There is no time to waste,” because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott.

He said modelers of climate systems are “very keen” to develop supercomputer modeling that would enable more detailed linking of cause and effect as a warming world shifts jet streams and other atmospheric currents. Those changes can wreak weather havoc.

Record heat forces northerners to adapt

From CBC News, Tuesday, August 10, 2010:

Landslides and low water levels in the Northwest Territories in the wake of record-breaking warmth have prompted calls for changes in infrastructure planning.

“It’s really important that community decision-makers and government decision-makers are prepared to spend a little bit more to make sure that the design [of structures such as buildings and roadways], in terms of preparation for permafrost degradation, is as strong as possible,” said Doug Ritchie, a spokesman for the environmental group Ecology North, in the wake of temperature changes that Environment Canada called “unprecedented.”

In the Northwest Territories this year, spring temperatures were almost six degrees warmer than average, surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by half a degree. Climatologist Dave Phillips said in his 40 years with Environment Canada, he’s never seen such a rapid change in temperature.

“In my business, you break records by a tenth or a hundredth of a degree, not by a full half-degree or a degree,” he said. “This is unprecedented, this kind of warming that we’ve seen in the last six months.”

Since spring, record low water levels have been recorded in the Slave River at Fort Smith, a community near the Alberta boundary.

Continue reading: Record heat forces northerners to adapt

Higher temperatures are lengthening Alaska's growing season

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, August 1, 2o10:

One hundred years ago, the growing season in Fairbanks was less than three months long. Last year, some local gardeners were still harvesting broccoli and cabbage in mid-September.

Fairbanks is 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter and 11 percent drier than it was in the early 20th century, according to data gathered by the Alaska Climate Research Center. (The growing season is marked by the last frost in spring and the first frost in fall.) These changes have stretched the growing season from 85 to 123 days in the past century. And while warming might produce more potatoes and pumpkins in cold-climate regions, it could eradicate tree populations.

Govs consider alternative energy, climate change

From The Associated Press, Sunday, June 27, 2010:

New transmission lines are critical to developing the alternative electricity production needed to meet demand in the coming years, governors of states in the West said Monday.

The need for new energy development and dangers of climate change topped the agenda at the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association, where participants recognized that more renewable energy is a priority that will require considerable private investment.

About half of the governors in the West are participating in the event.

The governors want to find a way to fast-track the construction of expensive, lengthy transmission lines to carry wind and solar power from rural to large urban areas.

Continue reading:  Govs consider alternative energy, climate change

A Caribou-bou in the Warming Arctic

From The New York Times, Friday, June 25, 2010:

A long-running joke with my nieces, Allison and Lindsay, is that a mistake involving caribou is a “caribou-bou.”  Our caribou-bou is now clear.  We missed the massive migrations of the Western caribou herd in Alaska by two days. We’ve seen recent tracks everywhere, as well as those of wolves and grizzlies.

The caribou apparently migrated to the coast early, and then clear, warm weather brought an early influx of mosquitoes, so the caribou left for cooler conditions and snowbanks that had not yet melted.

Continue reading: A Caribou-bou in the Warming Arctic

Then & Now: The Changing Arctic Landscape

A UA Museum of the North Special Exhibit

May 15, 2010 – January 8, 2011

This exhibition presents compelling, visual evidence of climate change in the North. By comparing early 20th Century photos with contemporary views from the same vantage points, visitors can see for themselves the nature and extent of changes to this remote landscape. Personal narratives complement the photos to help visitors understand what these changes mean for the world in which we live.

Click here for more information.

Fairbanks professor among signers of climate-change letter

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, March 16, 2010:

A University of Alaska Fairbanks professor is one of about 250 members of the U.S. National Academy of Science who have signed a well-publicized letter supporting climate-change science.

The letter, published in the May 6 issue of the journal Science, defends climate science against “the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and climate scientists in particular.”

Terry Chapin, a longtime professor at UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology, said he and other signatories were motivated to address a debate that has become increasingly politicized.

The letter defends the integrity of the climate change science, which has come under increased scrutiny in the past year.

“There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies an ecosystems on which we depend,” the letter reads.

Click here to read the full story.