Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Alaska: Disaster in Slow Motion

Posted by feww on September 5, 2013

Exile inevitable for America’s first climate refugees: Report

The impact of climate change is more intense in the far north, where temperatures are warming faster than the global average, causing  rapid thawing of the sea ice, melting the permafrost and forcing  residents of remote Alaskan areas out of their villages, said a report.

  • Some 184 Alaskan villages, or 86% of all native communities, are at risk because of climate change.
  • It cost $100 to $400 million just to relocate one village [See full report.]

ALASKA NATIVE VILLAGES: Most Are Affected by Flooding and Erosion, but Few Qualify for Federal Assistance—GAO

Approximately 6,600 miles of Alaska’s coastline and many of the low-lying areas along the state’s rivers are subject to severe flooding and erosion. Most of Alaska’s Native villages are located on the coast or on riverbanks.

aniak flooding 2002
Aerial View of Flooding in Aniak (c. 2002). Source: Alaska Division of Emergency Services

map of alaska
Locations of 184 Native Villages Affected by Flooding and Erosion. Source: GAO.

Permafrost (permanently frozen subsoil) is found over approximately 80 percent of Alaska. It is deepest and most extensive on the Arctic Coastal Plain and decreases in depth, eventually becoming discontinuous further south. In northern Alaska, where the permafrost is virtually everywhere, most buildings are elevated to minimize the amount of heat transferred to the ground to avoid melting the permafrost. In northern barrier island communities, the permafrost literally helps hold the island together. However, rising temperatures in recent years have led to widespread thawing of the permafrost, causing serious damage. As permafrost melts, buildings and runways sink, bulk fuel tank areas are threatened, and slumping and erosion of land ensue. —GAO.

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