Scientist working on local climate change report: juneauempire 080906
Scientist working on local climate change report
Social, environmental effects assessed as area grows warmer
By ERIC MORRISON JUNEAU EMPIRE
The annual average temperature in Juneau has risen 4 degrees
Fahrenheit since 1943, according to a meteorologist with the Juneau
Weather Forecast Office.
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This and other climate changes could have a significant effect on
Southeast Alaska, officials say.
The city's Scientific Panel on Climate Change is finishing a report on
what environmental and socioeconomic changes could be on the horizon
for the state capital, said Brendan Kelly, chairman of the six-person
"That's an area we want to understand better and help the community
understand better," he said.
The panel was set up by Mayor Bruce Botelho to help educate the public
on climate change in Juneau, Kelly said at the panel's meeting Tuesday
"The first order is to lay out the facts in as clear a way as
possible," he said. "We want to make sure we do that well before we
weigh in what policy actions should be taken."
Kelly said there is no doubt the trend appears to be warmer
temperatures across the globe.
"It certainly is a reality that the climate overall is warming," he
said. "The earth overall is warming. ... In Juneau we're warming
faster overall than the overall average."
In 1943, when local temperatures were first recorded, the average
temperature for Juneau was 38 degrees. The average now is about 42.5
degrees, said Tom Ainsworth, a panelist and the meteorologist in
charge of the Juneau Weather Forecast Office.
"It's not necessarily a bad thing," Ainsworth said, adding that the
planet continuously goes through climate-change cycles. "It's a
natural thing. But if we can use our information of these cycles to
improve our lifestyle, then I think we should."
Panelist Jim Powell said there is a lot of "gloom and doom" associated
with climate change and global warming, but there are things that can
be done to deal with some of the issues the community could face down
"There's a story here but there can be a good outcome," he said.
Powell said the community needs to turn the corner and realize that
climate change is not just a global issue.
"There are things that we can do, and we can take action," he said.
Kelly and Ainsworth said the whole community should weigh in on the debate.
"This is a community issue," Ainsworth said. "It touches energy. It
touches transportation, and it touches how you cook your meals."
Kelly said the panel doesn't think it has all the answers but said
members can lay out what the scientific f
igures mean to the community.
"As scientists we have something to add to the discussion, but we
should by no means necessarily be leaders of the conversation," he
said. "The policy has to involve obviously a lot more than the
scientific minds of the community."
Kelly said it will take business leaders and policymakers to use the
panel's report to steer the community in the right direction.
"It's much harder to get a handle on is how will this translate into
the socioeconomic impacts," he said. "What is this going to do to
Ainsworth said the report will help tighten what scientists know about
the climate change and present it in a community-friendly way.
"It's going to take this cosmic science thing and bring it down to the
dinner table, I think," he said.
Kelly said he didn't want to give a firm date on when the report will
be completed but indicated during the meeting he hoped to present it
to the mayor by the middle of next month. He said the report will be
presented to the Assembly and possibly other community forums during
the fall or winter.
"I think it's a good sign that the community of Juneau has the
foresight to take a look ahead at this time and see what we can
learn," Ainsworth said.
• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@....