Because it’s so far north, Alaska is showing the effects of global warming long before any of the other 49 states. Forests that should be green are brown, due to the spruce bark beetle. Over the past 15 years, it’s killed more trees in Alaska than any other insect in North America’s recorded history. Ecologist Ed Berg blames the high beetle population on the weather. He says, “We had a really long run of warm summers.”
John Whitfield writes in nature.com that in Prince William Sound, boats have to navigate through the large number of icebergs calving off the Columbia Glacier. Alaska is already famous for its mosquitoes, so big they’re referred to as the state bird. Now they’ve spread farther than ever.
Alaska’s sea ice had the biggest melt yet this summer and the winter was unusually mild. Temperatures have changed more in Alaska over the past 30 years than they have anywhere else on Earth. Fairbanks is a city built on permafrost. If it gets too warm, the city could literally melt away. Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States, suffers from a retreat of the ice it’s built on as well. There are plans to dismantle and move the villages of Shishmaref and Kivalina, at a cost of more than $100 million (over $100,000 per resident).
It’s hard to tell how much of Alaska’s climate change is due to global warming and how much to natural climate cycles. There seems to be a 60-year variation in temperatures between the east and west, so when one side heats up, the other cools down. In a few years, this could flip again and reverse Alaska’s recent warming trend.
Meteorologist Gunter Weller says, “What you see here is an indicator of what can be expected in the rest of the world.”
Michael Cremo says there was a technologically advanced civilization in the past that has been completely forgotten. How can we find out what they knew? Listen to Dreamland this weekend to find out!
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