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.
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.