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Alaska Conservation Solutions2008

The Greatest Threat

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity today.

Markku Niskala Secretary-General of the Red Cross January 2008

Photo The Age, Melbourne. All rights reserved

The Greatest ThreatThings are getting desperate enough now that we need to throw away our conservatism and just act.Dr. Terry Chapin, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Amanda Byrd/Canadian Ice Service

Global Warming Basics

What do these pollutants do? Global FeverGreenhouse gases make the earth too hot, just like:> sleeping under a heavy blanket in the summertime > wearing a parka that is too thick

Our atmospheric blanket or parka is over 35% thicker than it used to beThinner blanket is just right.

Thicker blanket traps too much heat.

Weather vs. ClimateWeather: The short-term state of the atmosphere -- up to a few days Climate: Long-term averages, frequencies and extremes -- generally 3 to 5 decades

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

1950

2008

Choosing shorts or long underwear on a particular day is about weather; the ratio of shorts to long underwear in the drawer is about climate.Charles Wohlforth ~ The Whale and the Supercomputer

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Weather vs. Climate

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.

Anchorage, AK January 18, 2009Photo courtesy of Parker Rittgers / ADN reader submission

Mark Twain

Global Warming Basics

Alaska is Ground ZeroChanges in physical and biological systems and Surface surface temperature 1970-2004 Air Temperature Trends 1942-2003

In past 50 years, Alaska:Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Temperatures have increased

4oF overall(National Assessment Synthesis Team)

Worldwide:Temperatures have increased slightly more than 1oF(IPCC, 2007) IPCC, 2007

Temperature Change oC 1970-2004Chapman and Walsh, 2004 -1.0 -0.2 0.2 Chapman and Walsh, 2004 1.0 2.0 3.5

Future Temperatures in Alaska

Temperature MeasurementsImpact of La Nina in Last 12 MonthsOcean temperature models predict a warm 2008-2009 winter in Alaska

.

NASA 2008

Global Warming Basics

Why has Alaska warmed the most?The Albedo Effect Snow and sea ice reflect 85-90% of suns energy Ocean surface and dark soil reflect only 10-20%(ACIA, 2004)

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Increased melting of snow and sea ice More dark earth and ocean surface is exposed More of suns heat energy is absorbed

Land or water warms faster

Its like wearing a white shirt v. a black shirt

Global Warming Basics

Why has Alaska warmed the most?Other Factors:(ACIA 2004)

1) Albedo effect 2) More energy goes directly into warming than into evaporation 3) Atmosphere layer is thinner in the Arctic 4) Increased heat transfer from oceans as sea ice retreats

ACIA Graphic

5) Alterations in atmospheric and ocean circulation

Temperature MeasurementsImpact of La Nina in Last 12 MonthsOcean temperature models predict a warm 2008-2009 winter in Alaska

.

NASA 2008

Impacts in Alaska

Impacts of Warming in AlaskaNOAA photo Tony Weyiouanna, Sr Columbia University photo

1. Melting ice, glaciersand permafrostGlobal Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

2. Animals 3. Wetlands and forests 4. Weather and storms

5. People and culture

Impacts in Alaska

Melting Sea Ice 23% smaller than

1. Melting

previous minimum; 39% smaller than average Ice 50% thinner(D. A. Rothrock et al., 1999)Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Ice only 3 feet thickin most locations(NOAA FAQ, 2007)

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, 1978 - 2008

In September 2007 an area thesize of Florida (69,000 square miles) melted in six days (NSIDC 2007)

Humpback whales spotted inArctic Ocean for first time in 2007

Impacts in Alaska

The Ice Cap in September New minimum:

1. Melting

1.59 million square miles (4.13 million square km)September median ice edge 1979-2000

Previous minimum:2.05 million square miles (2005)

Sea Ice edge Sep. 16, 2007

Average minimum:2.60 million square miles (1979 2000)

1 million square miles is an area roughly the size of Alaska and Texas combined, or ten United Kingdoms (NSIDC, 2007)

Melting Sea Ice: Sept. 2008Arctic sea ice extent reached annual low on September 12, 2008: The second-lowest level ever 33% less than average minimum from 1979-2000

Impacts in Alaska 1. Melting

NSIDC (2008)

Melting Sea Ice Arctic winter ice 2008: Loss of older, thicker (12 15 ft) ice

Impacts in Alaska 1. Melting

Old ice (6+ years) has declined from over 20% to about 6% Over 70% of ice is first-year

NSIDC (2008)

Impacts in Alaska

Melting Sea IceThe Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by 2040.(U.S National Center for Atmospheric Research 2006)

1. Melting

Our research indicates that society can still minimize the impacts on Arctic ice.Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Dr. Marika Holland, National Center for Atmospheric Research

2000

2040

Impacts in Alaska

Glacial RetreatMcCall Glacier The rapid retreat of Alaskas glaciers represents 50% of the estimated mass loss by glaciers through 2004 worldwide(ACIA, 2004)

1. Melting

Loss of over 588 billion cubic yards from 1961 to 1998 (Climate Change, 11/05) Alaskas glaciers are responsible for at least 9% of the global sea level rise in the past century (ACIA, 2004) Bering Glacier, representing more than 15% of all the ice in Alaska, is melting twice as fast as previously believed, releasing approximately 8 trillion gallons of water per year into the ocean -- or the equivalent of two Colorado Rivers(Michigan Tech Research Institute, 5/07)

1941 1958USGS photo

2004 2003

Bruce Molnia photo

Matt Nolan photo

Austin Post photo

Impacts in Alaska

Glacial Retreat Accelerated melting of glaciers and ice caps could add an additional 4 to 9.5 inches of sea level rise. (Science 7/07)

1. Melting

Alaskas Columbia Glacier has decreased by approximately 9 miles since 1980 and thinned by as much as 1,300 feet.. (Science 7/07)

Impacts in Alaska

Permafrost ThawingAll the Observatories show a substantial warming during the last 20 years, causing permafrost to melt at an unprecedented rate. (State of theArctic 2006)

1. Melting

Soil Temperature at 20m Depth Soil Temperatures at-6C0 DEPTH

Osterkamp and Romanovsky Osterkamp and Romanovsky Franklin Bluffs

19872003

2003z

-8C

Average Deadhorse Deadhorse 1987-

West Dock West Dock

-10C

1m |

|

|

|

|

|

|

|

-8 -7 1980

-6

TEMPERATURE

-5 1988

-4

-3 -2 1996

-1oC

2004

NSIDC

Consequences: Damage to infrastructure, lakes, rivers, and forests Rising sea levels Release of stored carbon (methane and CO2)

Vladimir Romanovsky photo

Impacts in Alaska

Animals at Risk Polar bears Walruses Ice seals Black guillemots Kittiwakes Salmon Caribou Arctic grayling

2. Animals

Rising temperatures Shrinking habitat Food harder to get Expanding diseases Competition

Impacts in Alaska

Polar Bears in Peril Numbers in western Hudson Bay have declined 22% in 17 years (U.S. GeologicalService & Canadian Wildlife Service, 2005)

2. Animals

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

87% on sea ice (19791991) vs. 33% on sea ice (1992-2004) (Monnett et al., 12/05) Alaska polar bear drownings in 2004: 4 documented, 27 estimated total(U.S. Minerals Management Service, 2004)

Cannibalism in 2004(Amstrup et al., 2006)

Photo environmentaldefense.org. All rights reserved

Impacts in Alaska

Polar Bear CannibalismPhotos courtesy of Steven Amstrup, USGS

2. Animals

Amstrup et al., Polar Biology - accepted March 27, 2006 Springer-Verlag 2006

Impacts in Alaska

Polar Bears in Peril Cubs perishing (61 cubs per 100 females between 196789; 25 cubs per 100 females between 1990-2006 ), smaller skulls and adult starvation(Regehr & Amstrup, 2006)Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

2. Animals

Shifting denning sites: 62% on ice (1985-94); 37% on ice (1998-2004) (Fischbach et al., 2007) USGS predicts the extirpation of Alaskas polar bears by 2050, with an overall elimination of two-thirds of the global population (USGS, 2007) Secretary Kempthorne proposed listing the polar bear as threatened

Impacts in Alaska

Walrus Warning Signs

2. Animals

Female walruses depend on sea ice over the continental shelf for feeding and nursing platforms Abandoned walrus calves: They were swimming around us crying (Aquatic Mammals 4/06) Haulout on Land: Thousands of walruses on shore in Alaska in 2007; 40,000 in one haulout in Russia (AP 10/07) Stampeding Deaths: 3,000 to 4,000 stampeding deaths in Russia in 2007 Other Concerns: More energy expended in foraging; depleted habitat; increased calf mortality

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Willia