Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Climate change raising concern in Alaska

Climate change is sending increasingly alarming messages. For instance, sea ice in Northern Alaska disappeared earlier than usual this spring, which has impacted wildlife and fish, too. The early melting was caused by exceptionally warm ocean waters.

On 24 June, Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks tweeted alarming measurements showing that

the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas were baking:
surface temperatures
reached 15 °C,
5 degrees Celsius above
the average for the period
1981 to 2010.

The process – which has a negative effect not only on the food web but also on local communities and commerce – is part of the feedback spiral caused by climate change: higher ocean temperatures reduce the quantity of sea ice, which makes the oceans even warmer in turn.

At the time of the warming, many seals died along the western and northern shores of Alaska, while many gray whales perished in the south. According to the expert, it is not known whether the warm water has contributed to that. “Certainly it’s all happening at the same time,” Thoman noted.

Sea ice in Northern Alaska disappeared earlier than usual this spring, which has impacted wildlife and fish, too Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: Anchorage Daily News

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