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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

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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

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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. Williams

Photo Viktor Nikiforov, WWF-Russia Photo: Corel Corp., Courtesy of www.exzooberance com

Impacts in Alaska

Brown BearsFactors of Concern: Hibernation disturbances for reproducing females (Jan-May) 2 months to implant Cub growth Flooding of dens (Sean Farley, ADF&G, 2007) Reduction in productivity and survival rates following salmon decline in Kuskokwim; additional research underway(Steve Kovach, FWS, 2007)

2. Animals

Diet impairment: fish and berries (Kenai Brown Bears fish 90% of diet vs. black bears 10%)

Impacts in Alaska

Caribou The Western Arctic Caribou Herd shrank by 113,000 (more than 20%) between 2003 and 2007; mid-winter warm spells may have played a role(AP 5/08)

2. Animals

Since 1989, the Porcupine Caribou Herd has declined at 3.5% per year to a low of 123,000 animals in 2001 (ACIA 2004) Freezing rain coats lichen Changing rivers Less tundra

Impacts in Alaska

Dall Sheep

2. Animals

were going to have declining Dall sheep. Were losing their habitat.Dr. John Morton - Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Dall sheep live exclusively in alpine tundra Due to warmer temperatures, the tree line in the Kenai Mountains has risen at a rate of about 1 meter/year over the past 50 years 20% of the tundra above 1,500 ft. has disappeared, is now shrub or open woodland(Refuge Notebook, 6/07)

Photo: Tim Craig, Wildlife Biologist BLM

Impacts in Alaska

Muskoxen

2. Animals

Population in northern Alaska and Canada declined from approximately 700 to 400 (Pat Reynolds, FWS, 2007) Risk Factors:

Icing eventsLower calf production Deeper snow Not highly mobile Increase in disease (e.g. nematode lungworm, able to complete life cycle in 1 year v. 2 years)(Kutz et al., 2004)

Impacts in Alaska

Birds ThreatenedKittlitzs MurreletDeclines in Kittlitzs Murrelet: Prince William Sound: 97% from 1989 - 2001Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

2. Animals

Glacier Bay: 89% from 1991 - 2000 Kenai Peninsula: 83% since 1976(BirdLife International, Kittlitzs Murrelet Species Fact Sheet, 2006)

Photo 2004 Gary Luhm. All rights reserved.

The fate of the Kittlitzs Murrelet may hinge on the fate of Alaskas glaciers, and therefore Kittlitzs may be among the worlds first avian species to succumb to the effects of rising

Subsistence observations: Birds flying higher, farther away Lakes and rivers too low Fewer birds seen

global temperatures.(John F. Piatt, USGS, and Kathy Kuletz, USFWS)

Impacts in Alaska

Alaska Waterfowl Hatch dates have advanced 5 - 10 days since1982 in all 5 species studied in Yukon Delta NWR

2. Animals

Cackling Hatchlings

Sea-level rise, increased storm frequency andintensity, and wetland drying will likely cause dramatic changes in waterfowl communitiesJulien Fischer, Scientist, USFWS (2007)

Aleutian Cackling Geese

White Front Goose on Nest

Brandt Geese

Impacts in Alaska

Waterfowl -- Scaup

2. Animals

Population appears to be in peril(Consensus Report, 2006)

Declined from over 7 million (in 1970s) to 3.39 million (2005) (CR) Record low in 2006: 3.2 million(Ducks Unlimited)

70% breed in western boreal forest; Fastest rate of decline there (94,000 birds per year from 1978 - 2005) Declines reflect breeding season events. (CR)

19% wetland loss in Yukon Flats(1985 - 89 v. 2001 - 03)

Where ponds lose 20% or more surface, scaup food sources decline (i.e. amphipods, gastropods and chironomid larvae)(Corcoran et al., 2007)

Impacts in Alaska

Yukon Chinook DiseasedYukon River: Water Temperature

2. Animals

E.R.Keeley photo

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

E.R. Keeley photo

Courtesy of Dr. R. Kocan

Protozoan parasite Icthyophonus never found in Yukon salmon before 1985 Today, up to 45% of the Yukons Chinook salmon are infected(Kocan et al., 2004)

R. Kocan photo R. Kocan photo

Infection is causing:AFIP photo

Wastage Reduced returns to spawning grounds Mortality

Photo: Armed Forces Institute of Pathology

Impacts in Alaska

Kenai Salmon Streams WarmingKenai Streams: Days Above Temperature Standard

2. Animals

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Temperatures in Kenai Peninsula streams now consistently exceed Alaskas standard to protect salmon spawning areas (13o C/ 55o F)

Source: Cook Inlet Keeper, August 2007

Impacts in Alaska

Smaller Fry in Silted Skilak LakePhoto: NWS/APRFC, NOAA

2. Animals

Glacial melt has increased silt in Skilak Lake (major rearing area for Kenai River sockeye)Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Less light, plankton production and food for salmon fry

Fry in 2004 were about 50% smaller than average for the prior decade; fry in 2005 were 60% smaller(AK Department of Fish & Game, 2005)

Photo Adams River Salmon Soc

Impacts in Alaska

Low Pink Salmon Harvests ADFG 2006 SE purse seine Predicated: 52 million Actual: 11.6 million

2. Animals

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Low number was due in large part to the warmer temperatures of 2004, when the parents of this seasons mature fish would have been affected (ADFG, 2006)

Impacts in Alaska

Exotic Species AppearingJuneau EmpireSeptember 25, 2005

2. Animals

Global Warming: The Greatest Threat 2006 Deborah L. Williams

Squid, sharks and barracuda are among species newly arrived in Alaska waters. Seiners and troll fishermen have sighted sardines, anchovies, jumbo squid, sharks, barracuda and large concentrations of brilliantly hued open-ocean fish such as pomfret and opah.

Photo courtesy of the Deep Blue Gallery.

2005 GOA water temperat...