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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:23 AM
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Alaska's Permafrost Not So Permanent - CSM
Alaska's not-so-permanent frost
With winters warming eight degrees in three decades, Alaskans face a strange new landscape
By Yereth Rosen
Special to the Christian Science Monitor

HOMER, Alaska - "Overlooking the snowcapped mountains and tidewater glaciers around Kachemak Bay, this hamlet of fishermen, artists and tourists seems the picture of Alaskan charm. But beneath the scene of plenty is a landscape parched: three hot summers have dried local wells and forced the native village of Nanwalek to shuttle in botled water and ration it. Swaths of spruce forest around Homer and (on) the Kenai Peninsula are brown because of an unprecedented beetle infestation, linked to the warming climate. And snow levels have diminished steadily since 1938.


Large sections of northern forests are collapsing into swamps of melting permafrost; sections of shoreline on the Arctic Coast have thawed, making them vulnerable to storms, and the Arctic's largest ice shelf, solid for 3,000 years, broke up last month due to warmer temperatures - though scientists were hesitant to blame global warming specifically.


Animals, meanwhile, are dealing with the retreating pack ice. With less time to escape from land in the spring, they sometimes wind up stranded on the outskirts of towns like Barrow. Polar bears have grown thinner in recent years, and some have to be killed as more migrate south. And the warming may have dire consequences for salmon in the Yukon River, the major food and income source for indigenous people along the 2,300 mile waterway.

Rivers have heated five degrees in 20 years, making mid-summer temperatures nearly lethal for salmon, says Richard Kocan of the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science. With warmth comes increased infection by a parasite that seems to wipe out their reproductive abilities. And because the taste and texture of the meat has changed, fishermen harvest 150 salmon to get 100 usable fish, straining runs, Dr. Kocan says. 'They don't feel right. They don't taste right. You can't sell them.'"

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mmm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:54 AM
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1. Seems we are about 20 years ahead of predictions
the next twenty years will bring horrible things
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ozone_man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 11:29 AM
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2. Witnessed this drought in Homer this August.
I guess their reservoir was pretty well spent. Is it all of the Arctic or is Alaska getting hit harder by this warming trend?
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