Climate Change in Alaska
While there is some debate as to its cause, there is no doubt that the climate is changing throughout Alaska. These changes are expected to have impacts environmentally, socially, and economically within Alaska.
A Governor’s Sub-cabinet on Climate Change was formed to prepare and implement an Alaska
climate change strategy. The Sub-cabinet selected over 100 individuals to serve on Mitigation
and Adaptation Work Groups to help develop this strategy.
The Mitigation Work Groups examined ways green house gas emissions can be reduced through conservation, efficiency and technological advances and developed a set of recommendations for:
- oil and gas,
- energy supply and demand,
- transportation/land use,
- forestry, agriculture, and waste, and
- cross-cutting topics, including residential/government-lead actions.
The Adaptation Work Groups focused on how to design and/or prepare for the future and address impacts of climate change as it relates to
- human health and culture,
- ecosystems and the economies that depend on them, and
- new shipping routes in the North.
A Research Needs Work Group was also formed to indentify research gaps and needs. Each group submitted a report of their findings and recommendations to the Sub-cabinet, which is now working on developing a comprehensive state climate change strategy. Information on the Sub-cabinet and Work groups can be found by visiting http://www.climatechange.alaska.gov.
While the Sub-cabinet is looking comprehensively at climate-related impacts throughout Alaska, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is also identifying likely impacts to fish and wildlife and their uses from a changing climate. We examined climatic impacts focusing on six key habitat types: forest, tundra, wetland, coastal marine, freshwater aquatic, and karst caves, previously identified in the Department’s Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Likely impacts from climate change, monitoring and research needs, and specific species concerns have been identified for each habitat type, using both short and longer term time horizons. The report summarizing these efforts is available as Special Publication No. 10-14 (PDF 12,595 kB).
This report and other information are being used to develop a department climate change strategy (PDF 1,678 kB). The goal is to develop a strategy that will outline efforts to maintain healthy ecosystems and robust fish and wildlife populations in the face of a changing climate.
Addressing climate impacts is complex and no single agency can succeed by itself. Collaboration with partners will be needed. The Sub-cabinet and the department are working with agencies, the University of Alaska, and other groups to identify areas of research focus and possible collaboration.