Global Warming Crisis in Alaska: A preview of what’s to come

Name:

Institution:


 

Abstract

Over the years, global warming has remained a major issue dominating international debates, because of its effects on the Arctic Circle. As a result, researchers have documented changes on Arctic’s physical environment stemming from climatic changes. With these changes, temperatures around the Arctic Circle are almost double the rest of the world. For example, Alaska has witnessed noticeable changes including but not limited to unpredictable weather, poor ice conditions, decrease in quality and quantity of snow and transfiguration of the landscape.

With ever rising temperatures because of global warming, thinner layers of ice are forming in Polar Regions, there are more sudden thaws and early and late freezes. This has affected surface travel as opposed to when ice froze hard enough, allowing safe travel. This research analyses the threat, which native communities pose in Alaska, based on survival factors and conditions leading the identity of the people.

Global warming crisis in Alaska: A Preview of what’s to come

Introduction

Throughout history, global warming has remained a major issue dominating international debates, because of its effects on the Arctic Circle. As a result, researchers have documented changes on Arctic’s physical environment stemming from climatic changes. With these changes, temperatures around the Arctic Circle are almost double the rest of the world (Anton & Shelton, 2011). In Alaska, for instance, several changes have taken place. These are unpredictable weather, poor ice conditions, decrease in quality and quantity of snow and transfiguration of the landscape (Anton & Shelton, 2011).

Because of global warming, there are thinner layers of ice in Polar Region, high occurrence rate of sudden thaws, late and early freezes. This affects surface travel compared to when lakes and seas froze. This raises safety concerns (Anton & Shelton, 2011). It is possible to notice the impact of global warming on sea-ice over the last three decades by eight percent, which is equal to one million Km2 an area bigger Denmark, Sweden and Norway put together. Another worrying trend is the ever-rising rate at which ice melts (Anton & Shelton, 2011).

Global warming has also led to changes in timing, quantity and quality of snowfall. Today, Alaska experiences snow during late in the year with low quality. Global warming is to blame for the 10% decrease in the total snow cover in the area. This is likely to rise by another 10% in the future (Anton & Shelton, 2011). Additionally, it has affected land conditions in the region. The area has high melting rates on the permafrost, which supports weak underground gravel leading to landslides and slumping together with high erosion rates (Anton & Shelton, 2011).

Moreover, global warming has led to the loss of sea ice, which plays a key role in the formation of large waves. Because of this, there are violent sea storms, leading to erosion of the coast, which exposes permafrost to more external air, contributing to increased melt permafrost (Anton & Shelton, 2011). More importantly, the weather conditions in Alaska has become unpredictable, with global warming contributing to instant changes in the intensity and direction of winds in the region. All these have invalidated all the methods of weather forecasting (Anton & Shelton, 2011).

 

 

These problems boil down to changing the environment in Arctic Circle. Rivers and Lakes in the region have gone down because of melting permafrost, melting ice caps, lack of snowfalls, changes in wind direction and early thaws (Anton & Shelton, 2011). Because of sudden thaw in spring, there is increased erosion of river banks and paths. These challenges have also escalated to biodiversity with notable changes in the health, characteristics, and location of animals and plants. These have also weighed heavily on game harvest by interfering with quantity, quality, and behavior (Anton & Shelton, 2011). There is need to address these issues while focusing on the future.

Global warming as a threat to Indigenous population in Alaska

There is enough evidence that global warming has affected Alaska in different ways. The Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, Patricia Cochran, says many people die of infections caused by global warming (“Native Voices,” 2007). This is because of many factors like people falling through ice. Moreover, the inability to determine the conditions as it was before kills travelers and hunters.

 

 

 


 

Reference

Anton, D. K. & Shelton, D. (2011). Case study III: Climate Change and Human Rights. Human Rights & Environmental Case Studies.

“Biodiversity and Climate Change: International Day for Biological Diversity.” (2007). Convention on Biological Diversity, p. 12-13.

Bronen, R. (2013). Climate-Induced Displacement of Alaska Native Communities.

Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Indigenous People in the Arctic Region. Indigenous People Indigenous Voices. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/events/indigenousday/pdf/IndigenousArcticEng.pdf

Goldenberg, S. (n.d.). The Risk list. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ interactive/2013/may/14/alaska-villages-frontline-global-warming

“Indigenous people hardest hit by climate change describe impacts.” (2008, Apr. 2). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/unu-iph040108.php

“Native Voices.” (2007). Global warming: A growing threat to Alaska Native Communities. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals. Vol. 4, 3-8.

Watt-Cloutier, S. (2007). Global warming and human rights. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), background paper for a testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on, 5.