On these seven ways climate change is already visible in Alaska

In Alaska affects the climate change in the lives of Americans now already: natural fires, extreme weather, the disappearance of the traditional lifestyle of the original Alaskanen….


Alaska has earlier than the rest of the US burden of climate change because the warming in the arctic twice as fast as in more southern areas.

1. Natural fires

Warmer and drier weather will increase the risk of forest fires and that has Alaska the past summer noticed. Fires in California and the Us west coast received much more attention, but the fires in Alaska were much worse. In one summer was more than 20.234 square kilometers (for comparison: Belgium is 30.528 km2) of forest and tundra in flames. The fires were raging in remote places far from the inhabited world, but that makes them no less dramatic. The smoke makes the warming is also worse because there are aerosols to the air entering the temperature in the atmosphere increase.

2. The melting of glaciers

The glaciers in Alaska are the biggest tourist attractions, but they disappear at a rapid pace. Denali National Park between 1950 and 2010, for example, eight percent of its glaciers will be lost. Not only is that very bad news for the natural beauty in Alaska, but also for the rising of the sea level.

Permafrost © (c) George Burba /

3. Permafrost is becoming less permanent

In the arctic large part of the land throughout the year frozen. But the rising temperatures and the forest fires, ensure that the ground thaws. For the inhabitants of this very cold areas it is already very annoying because they – for lack of energy for a fridge – their food in pits under the floor to keep. But the problem is much bigger: when the permafrost thaws, huge amounts of greenhouse gases including methane.

4. Strange weather

Recordtemperaturen are not exceptional anymore in Alaska. On may 23, was in the remote town of Eagle, for example, 33 degrees Celsius. It was at that time warmer than in the southern state of Texas. Also has Alaska in the last few years to cope with extreme droughts followed by periods with lots of rain with flooding as a result. The snow stays away again. The last winter there was so little snow that the Iditarod hondensledenrace two times had to be rerouted for lack of snow. But the strangest thing was the so-called ‘thundersnow’ (thunderstorm in the winter) where Nome in February, was struck. This requires an extreme amount of energy in the atmosphere and that is almost never in poolklimaten.

5. The coast is eroding

Because the ice in the sea loses Alaska is also a barrier that the coast protection against erosion. The dooiende permafrost and the extreme rainfall accelerate the erosion. Some areas in the north of Alaska, losing an annual 18-metre beach.

6. Entire villages must move

Erosion and the melting of ice in the sea to create villages on the coast are very vulnerable. Three villages – Shishmaref, Kivalina and Newtok – are therefore already begun to move to prevent them to be swallowed up by the ocean. More than 160 other coastal towns are in danger.

© iStockphoto

7. Traditional food sources disappear

For the original inhabitants of Alaska is the more difficult of their traditional way of life to maintain. They can almost not be more canoeing in the waterways due to erosion, silting up. They can if not more, moose and other animals to hunt. Furthermore, the migratory birds because of the toendrameren disappear. By higher temperatures, there will be more fly, which in their turn, the caribou is sick. A thousands of years old culture is about to disappear. (MS)

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