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Study: Global warming is broadly affecting the Arctic

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  • Roger Bagula
    http://www.world-science.net/othernews/051028_arcticfrm.htm Study: Global warming is broadly affecting the Arctic Oct. 28, 2005 Special to World Science From
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
      Study: Global warming is broadly affecting the Arctic

      Oct. 28, 2005
      Special to World Science

      From glaciers to caribou, rivers to roads, global warming is affecting
      almost every aspect of life in the Arctic, researchers say in a new study.

      The findings appear two months after scientists predicted in the Aug. 23
      issue of the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union, Eos,
      that Arctic summers would be ice-free by this century’s end.

      The new paper—by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and
      other institutions—is to appear in the October issue of the research
      journal Climatic Change.

      It’s the fruit of decades of research by dozens of scientists in various
      disciplines, said Larry Hinzman, a research professor with the
      university’s Water and Environmental Research Center and the paper’s
      lead author.

      It shows that warming has a cascading effect on the land, vegetation,
      animals, weather and human systems, he added. “This paper looks at how
      changes in one component can reverberate through an entire system,” said
      Hinzman. “It really makes the point that you can’t look at individual
      components; you have to look at the system as a whole.”

      What makes climate change particularly obvious in the Arctic is that “We
      are so close to the freezing point of water,” Hinzman said. “When you
      change a system from frozen to unfrozen it has dramatic impacts.”

      The paper says that some of the changes have been going on for four
      centuries, but that the overall shift has accelerated since the mid-1970s.

      “There is a clear perception among residents of the North American
      Arctic that the climate of the region has changed in living memory,” the
      paper says. “Arctic residents have also made many key observations that
      are not widely documented by Western science.”

      Among the changes the report describes:


      Rivers and lakes are freezing later and breaking up earlier.

      Vegetation is spreading.

      Birds are changing their migration routes.

      Some indigenous peoples are facing tougher hunting schedules. “In
      Barrow, Alaska, spring goose hunting is conducted at inland locations
      following the spring bowhead whale hunt, which is carried out from the
      sea ice. The ability to travel inland depends on the presence of snow,
      which has been melting earlier… As hunters are required to go inland
      sooner if the they want geese, whaling and goose hunting shift from
      being successive to being competing activities.”

      Weather is becoming less predictable. “Hunters in Nunavut, Canada,
      report changing travel habits due to less predictable weather,” the
      authors noted. “The decline in predictability is at least as important
      to northern communities as is a change in average conditions, because
      traditional cues for predicting the weather no longer work.”

      The health of some of the animals on whom humans live is changing and in
      some cases worsening. “Changes in the behavior and health of caribou, a
      key subsistence species, have been observed in several communities,” the
      authors wrote. “In northern Canada the health of caribou in some herds
      has declined, and bulls are reported to die from overheating, in some
      cases associated with increased mosquito harassment.”

      Other key subsistence resources, such as cloudberries, are in decline in
      some areas.

      Some ponds and wetlands are drying out.

      Researchers started work on the paper in 2002, Hinzman said. It
      primarily draws on research done in Alaska, as well as studies in
      Siberia and Canada. “There were dozens and dozens of research programs
      that fed into this,” he said. The project was funded through the U.S.
      National Science Foundation’s Arctic System Science program.

      Roger L. Bagula { email: rlbagula@... or rlbagulatftn@... }
      11759 Waterhill Road,
      Lakeside, Ca. 92040 telephone: 619-561-0814
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