ALASKA

ALASKA

Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 but only became a state in 1959, just months before Hawaii. It’s awe-inspiring and rugged terrain stretches over 570,000 miles and is inhabited by 731,000 people making it the largest state in the US by land mass and 49th by population. Almost one third of the state sits in the Arctic Circle and 4.5% of it is covered by 100,000 glaciers covering 29,000 square miles. The state boasts more coastline than the rest of the country combined and the nation’s two largest forests. Wildlife in this last frontier is diverse and abundant.

Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the country and with that warming, its permafrost has begun to melt. Permafrost is ground with a temperature that remains at or below freezing, and it provides a stable foundation for much of Alaska’s infrastructure— found beneath 85% of the state. As permafrost melts, the ground sags and infrastructure like roads and buildings deteriorate or collapse. Also a carbon store house, permafrost poses a global threat when it melts, beyond the immediate costs to Alaskan communities and dangers to both humans and wildlife. As frozen plants and animals in the permafrost warm and decompose, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. The amount of carbon now released by the world’s permafrost is nearly equal to the emissions of all of Japan.

Alaska’s Native communities will most directly bare the brunt of these changes. 87% of these communities are experiencing erosion and some are facing relocation. Many of the most remote communities rely on subsistence farming and are faced with threatened food supplies. In a rapidly-warming Alaska, wildlife also faces devastating consequences. For example, multiple mass bird die-offs have occurred since 2014, as warming seas have disrupted ecosystems and broken the food change on which they depend to survive.

Alaska is also a major producer of petroleum, exporting over $500 million in petroleum products in 2020. In December of 2020, the Trump Administration sought to increase oil production in the state by opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. The lease auction took place in early January of 2021, just two weeks before President Biden was sworn into office. However, the auction ended with a win for those who opposed the sale. Over half the auctions had no bidder, and the vast majority of the auctions won were by the state of Alaska itself. This was likely due to a combination of low oil prices, the coronavirus, and pressure from environmental protectionist groups.

While renewables currently contribute to a very small percentage of Alaska’s energy use, the state has a nonbinding commitment to generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2050. In May of 2020, the state government enacted a bill to integrate electrical utilities, increasing energy efficiency and paving a path for the transition to renewables. Anchorage, the state’s largest city, enacted a Climate Action Plan in May of 2019 which focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions while preparing for the impacts of climate change.

Alaska Climate Change: Glaciers shrink as average temperatures go up

CREDIT: TRT World

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Alaskan Native tribal non-profit wins $1.5 m grant for geothermal project

03/21/22
Several tribal communities around the U.S. have received a total of $9 million in federal grant funding for renewable projects, as announced by the U.S. Department of Energy today. Kawerak, Inc., a tribal non-profit in…

Governor’s alternative energy agenda would move state toward goal of 80 percent goal for renewable power

03/03/22
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has embraced an aggressive alternative energy agenda with several bills introduced last year and one of the potentially most far-reaching of the proposals, to set renewable energy portfolio standards for electric utilities,…

Tesla deploys big 37-Megapack project in Alaska to replace gas turbines

03/01/22
Homer Electric, a member-owned electric utility cooperative based in Alaska, announced the project based in Kenai Peninsula back in 2019 – shortly after Tesla first unveiled the Megapack.

Renewable energy initiative projects in the works for rural and urban Alaska

02/18/22
Rural communities are broken down into micro-grids, which essentially means that unlike areas on an interconnected grid such as Anchorage, energy cannot be pulled from other providers if there is an outage in the community.…

Preparing for Climate Change in Alaska

08/13/20
This page provides an overview of the steps Alaska is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Alaska Climate Change Action Plan Recommendations To The Governor

04/01/20
The climate action leadership team’s (calt) climate change action plan is a compilation of numerous ideas drawn from team members, public comment, and the expert and technical panels convened under the calt’s auspices. This action…

Anchorage Climate Action Plan

04/01/20
In collaboration with the University of Alaska, the Municipality of Anchorage has created a Climate Action Plan that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

KEY RESOURCES

Alaska State Profile and Energy Estimates

09/24/21
Alaska, the largest U.S. state, is one-fifth the size of the Lower 48 states, and, with its Aleutian Island chain, is as wide as the Lower 48 states from east to west. It is the…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

Addressing Links Between Climate and Public Health in Alaska Native Villages

08/11/21
As emissions of heat-trapping bases accumulate in our atmosphere, Earth's polar regions are warming more quickly than at lower latitudes. The rapid environmental changes that result from this warming can have a significant impact on…

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Alaska

09/19/20
In 2019, Alaska experienced a wildfire season with 720 fires, making it among the biggest fire seasons on record for the state. The damages of the season led to losses of at least $300 million.

State-by-State: Alaska

07/31/20
Alaska is Extremely Vulnerable to Climate Change

Climate Change In Alaska

04/01/20
Every new day brings with it new evidence of climate change in Alaskan communities – warmer, record breaking temperatures have resulted in thawing permafrost, thinning sea ice, and increasing wildfires.

Building climate change resilience

04/01/20
Climate change is altering life in Alaska, for wildlife and humans alike.

New report highlights Alaska’s last five years of dramatic climate change

04/01/20
Vast, remote, and largely still wild, Alaska stirs wonder in the hundreds of thousands who visit each year. With a land area of more than 570,000 square miles, and the longest coastline of any state,…

Adapt Alaska

04/01/20
Start here to help your community build resilience in a changing climate.

Adapting To Climate Change

04/01/20
Alaska accounts for about 20% of the total U.S. landmass, twice that of Texas. It is the only U.S. Arctic region, with lands on both sides of the Arctic Circle. Projected higher temperatures and more…

Climate Change In Alaska

04/01/20
DEC's Climate Change in Alaska archived website and 2009 Climate Change Advisory Group Reports.

MORE NEWS

Federal government to fund relocation projects for 6 Alaska communities

By Olivia Ebertz and Kyuk-Bethel  Photo: Rashah McChesney , Alaska's Energy Desk   03/09/22  
The federal government will fund relocation efforts for six Alaska communities threatened by erosion and flooding. Most are in the Yukon-Kuskowkim Delta, where erosion and flooding are pervasive problems. The projects will play out over…

Economists explore mining’s future in Alaska

By Peter Segall  Photo: Peter Segall , Juneau Empire   03/09/22  
A paper released Wednesday by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage envisions what the state’s mining industry could look like in 20 years. The paper’s authors — UAA…

‘Irreversible’ damage done to parts of Arctic climate, says latest report

By Joe Bartosik   03/05/22  
The report says while the loss of sea ice, especially in the summer, would be beneficial to shipping and commerce, such a loss, with no hope in returning to levels observed in the past 50…

Alaska’s congressional delegation calls for US to ban Russian energy imports

By Sean Maguire   03/04/22  
Alaska’s congressional delegation has joined a bipartisan legislative effort to ban the importation of Russian energy. “No more Russian energy should come into the United States for the duration of this bloody, horrifying, unprovoked war…

Dunleavy pitches energy transition to spur economy; utilities proceed with caution

By Elwood Brehmer  Photo: Elwood Brehmer , AJOC   03/02/22  
It comes down to the fundamentals of economic development, according to Dunleavy. He stressed in an interview with the Journal that Alaska’s economic centers are not able to compete with other states for business investment,…

Repeat photography shows climate change impacts on real places

By Kristen Pope  Photo: G.K. Gilbert and Ron Karpilo   02/01/22  
A 2004 photo captures a boat cruising a strip of water where an 1899 picture taken from the same spot shows a giant glacier. On either side of the channel, green trees and shrubs cover…

Alaska court rules against youths in climate change lawsuit

By Mark Thiessen  Photo: AP Photo/Mark Thiessen   01/29/22  
The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 16 young Alaskans who claimed long-term effects of climate change will devastate Alaska and interfere with their individual constitutional rights.

ConocoPhillips’ Plan for Extracting Half-a-Billion Barrels of Crude in Alaska’s Fragile Arctic

By Nicholas Kusnetz  Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis   01/23/22  
The Biden administration is facing a major test for its climate agenda in the Alaskan Arctic, where an oil company is proposing a 30-year development that would pump more than half-a-billion barrels of petroleum from…

Caribou migrations in a changing Arctic

By Joly, K. and others  Photo: NPS/Kyle Joly   01/05/22  
Caribou are highly adapted to extreme environmental variability, which has allowed them to endure dramatic, historic changes, including multiple ice ages. However, current climate change is happening 2-3 times faster in the Arctic than anywhere…

Climate change forces polar bears to migrate to Russia from Alaska

By Trends Desk   01/04/22  
One of the many signs of global warming is the change in animal population and habitation. Something similar is being witnessed with the polar bear population of Alaska that is rapidly dwindling.

Alaska hits 67 degrees, setting new December record

By Matthew Cappucci and Emily Schwing  Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount , The Washington Post   12/28/21  
Imagine running a 5K and winning the race by 10 minutes. That’s analogous to what is transpiring in Alaska at the moment. An exceptional slew of records has tumbled in the wake of extreme warmth,…

Alaska’s arctic waters appear poised for dangerous algal blooms

By Tim Lydon  Photo: Design Pics Inc/Alamy Stock Photo   12/02/21  
Climate change is bringing potentially deadly dinoflagellate blooms to the Far North, posing a new risk to food security.

Alaska Airlines launches investment arm to accelerate progress to net zero

10/18/21  
Today, Alaska Airlines announced the formation of a new LLC, Alaska Star Ventures, to advance emerging technology that will accelerate the airline's progress toward net zero carbon emissions.  "To live our purpose and create an airline people love,…

At Alaska’s most popular national park, climate change threatens the only road in and out

By Nathaniel Herz  Photo: Ash Adams for The Washington Post   10/15/21  
Denali National Park has just one road in and out. And each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors fill the park’s trademark buses for tours, hoping for a glimpse of a wolf or a brown…

Fuel for Thought: Alaska looks to ammonia from natural gas as part of energy transition strategy

09/28/21  
With the world headed into a low-carbon energy future, Alaska, rich in fossil fuels, is trying to hitch a ride on the green bandwagon.

Alaska redistricting board adopts draft maps for comment

09/10/21  
The board tasked with rewriting Alaska's legislative boundaries based on the latest census have adopted two draft maps for comment.

Storms And High Winds Projected To Become More Frequent In Western Alaska

By Greg Kim  Photo: Jimmie Lincon   09/10/21  
Western Alaska, a region already known for its high winds, is projected to get even windier. In communities along rivers or the coast, that could accelerate erosion through stronger waves. Driving these changes is a…

Climate change risks triggering catastrophic tsunamis, scientist warns

By Clive Cookson   09/09/21  
The world is underestimating the geological consequences of global warming, which could trigger catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis as the melting of ice sheets reduces the weight on the crust below and unleashes intense seismic activity,…

Proposed mine that would have destroyed more than 2,800 acres of fragile wetlands will be effectively blocked

By Dyani Chapman and Josh Chetwynd   09/09/21  
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will use the Clean Water Act to protect the area’s waters from contamination coming from the proposed Pebble Mine according to reports. This action will basically prevent the mine’s development for…

Emerson helps Alaska wind farm cut costs by 65%

09/07/21  
Emerson reported Aug. 9 that it's completed a digital transformation project to increase the reliability of clean energy generated at Golden Valley Electric Association’s Eva Creek wind farm. As the largest electric utility serving northern Alaska, GVEA…

A Climate Change-Induced Landslide Is Wreaking Havoc on Denali National Park

By Andrew Chow  Photo: Weebee Aschenbrenner , NPS Photo   09/07/21  
For decades, the rangers at Denali National Park in Alaska were easily winning their battle against a slow-moving landslide underneath the park’s only road. Now, due in part to the effects of climate change, they…

Alaska is high in natural power. It’s time to lead the nation.

By Piper Foster Wilder and Jenn Miller  Photo: Loren Holmes , ADN   08/29/21  
Alaskans pay a high price for the energy we use — higher than almost anywhere else in the country. Our energy costs us nearly twice what the average American pays per kilowatt, putting Alaska second…

Clendaniel: Raw beauty of Alaska wilderness raises climate change concerns

By Ed Clendaniel  Photo: Ed Clendaniel , Bay Area News Group   08/26/21  
It’s impossible to visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in southeastern Alaska and not marvel over the vast beauty of North America’s premier mountain wilderness. And ponder what kind of legacy we are leaving for future…

Climate change threatens seal hunting in Alaska

By Andrei Lonescu   08/25/21  
In the small village of Kotzebue, Alaska, seal hunting has been an essential feature of the indigenous way of life since times immemorial. A recent study found that over the past 17 years, climate change has significantly…

Federal judge rejects Trump-era permits for major Alaska oil project

By Joshua Partlow  Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post   08/18/21  
Wednesday’s decision is a setback for ConocoPhillips’s Willow project, which aims to produce more than 100,000 barrels a day on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

ICYMI: Secretary Granholm Visited Alaska to Witness Clean Energy Innovation in the ‘Last Frontier’

08/18/21  
 In case you missed it, this past Sunday and Monday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm traveled to Alaska to join U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski on a tour of clean energy research and development…

Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers

Coral Davenport  Photo: Jim Wilson , The New York Times   08/18/21  
 A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for…

Addressing Links Between Climate and Public Health in Alaska Native Villages

08/16/21  
As emissions of heat-trapping bases accumulate in our atmosphere, Earth's polar regions are warming more quickly than at lower latitudes. The rapid environmental changes that result from this warming can have a significant impact on…

Judge rules Alaska’s rural-energy subsidy should be funded

By James Brooks  Photo: Lisa Demer   08/12/21  
An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that a state subsidy for rural home electricity was not defunded earlier this year.

Infrastructure bill to fund renewables and geothermal in Alaska

Alexander Richter   08/12/21  
This week, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, bipartisan legislation which provides investments for core infrastructure—roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, energy, water systems, and broadband in the United States.

Record Salmon in One Place. Barely Any in Another. Alarm All Around.

By Victoria Petersen  Photo: Ash Adams , The New York Times   08/12/21  
This summer, fishers in the world’s largest wild salmon habitat pulled from a record-breaking run of 65 million sockeye in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, beating the 2018 record by more than three million fish.

Biden moves to protect the Tongass, North America’s largest rainforest, from logging and road building

By Beverly Law  Photo: Jack Olen   08/04/21  
Ask people to find the world’s rainforests on a globe, and most will probably point to South America. But North America has rainforests too – and like their tropical counterparts, these temperate rainforests are ecological…

Climate change is endangering sacred land

By Ray Levy Uyeda  Photo: Marlena Sloss   08/02/21  
Since time immemorial - before the European colonization of what is now known as the United States - tribes of the Pit River Nation have made annual pilgrimages to Medicine Lake in Northern California. The…

He Wrote a Gardening Column. He Ended Up Documenting Climate Change.

By Zach St. George  Photo: Ash Adams , New York Times   07/28/21  
In the summer of 2019, Jeff Lowenfels told me, one of his friends successfully grew okra in Anchorage. Lowenfels could not believe it. The crop was shorthand for all the change he has witnessed since he…

Alaska Underwater: Climate Won’t Wait

By Gabriella Gricius-Abbott  Photo:Melissamn   07/27/21  
Imagine if your entire community began to disappear into the ocean. Many communities don’t have to. In June, severe flooding sent a majority of the Kwigillingok, Alaska community underwater — but this is not a new phenomenon,…

Alaska can lead the US on renewable energy

By Clay Koplin  Photo: Emily Mesner , ADN   07/26/21  
A strategically developed energy infrastructure can change the face of our nation for the better. Cat …..

USDA Announces Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy, Initiates Action to Work with Tribes, Partners and Communities

07/15/21  
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today a new Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy to help support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience, and conserve natural resources. Through this strategy, USDA will consult with Tribes…
BBC

Alaska: Biden to suspend Trump Arctic drilling leases

Photo: Getty Images   06/02/21  
US President Joe Biden's administration will suspend oil and gas leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending an environmental review.

Biden Suspends Drilling Leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

By Coral Davenport, Henry Fountain, and Lisa Friedman  Photo: Steven J. Kazlowski   06/01/21  
The decision blocks, for now, oil and gas drilling in one of the largest tracts of undeveloped wilderness in the United States...

Dutch Harbor is nation’s top fishing port for 23rd straight year

By Hope McKenney and KUCB - Unalaska  Photo: Hope McKenney/KUCB   05/27/21  
Dutch Harbor has been named the nation’s top fishing port by volume of seafood landed for the 23rd consecutive year. The Aleutians East Borough — including Akutan, False Pass, Sand Point and King Cove —…

NOAA’s new climate ‘normals’ highlight warming trend

By Sabine Poux   05/05/21  
Every 10 years, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration analyzes data from its thousands of weather stations and releases new climate “normals,” providing temperature touchstones for any given day or month of the year.

Energy security is key to hopes for developing Alaska’s natural gas

By Doug Reynolds   05/04/21  
Alaska’s $6 billion “half-LNG” project, i.e. the North Slope conditioning plant and 500-plus miles of pipeline, but no liquefaction or exports, will never be funded unless the Biden administration and Congress realize that energy security…

Climate change undercuts air quality gains made during lockdown

By Emma Murphy  Photo: Luca Lorenzelli , Getty Images   05/03/21  
Despite lockdowns during the pandemic, air pollution is not improving as experts initially hoped and climate change is the primary culprit.

Salmon size is shrinking, and climate change is likely to blame. ‘It’s only going to get worse.’

By Kim Chipman  Photo: Andrew Burton , Getty Images   05/03/21  
At OBI Seafoods, a sprawling operation with outposts throughout Alaska, there’s all sorts of extra machinery for workers to master. At Whole Foods Market, there are new guidelines for purchasing salmon from wholesalers.

ALFA selected for clean energy pilot project

By The Cordova Times   05/01/21  
Federal energy officials are partnering with Sitka’s Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, along with four rural Alaska communities, to look into clean energy solutions that would replace the high-cost fossil fuels used to power Alaska’s boats…

Tracking the Impact of Climate Change in Alaska

By Caroline Harting  Photo: Sarah Betcher   04/28/21  
For some, climate change is still an abstract concept. They might experience hotter summers and strange weather patterns, but much of their lives are relatively unchanged.

Climate Change is Worsening Water Scarcity in Rural Alaska Says Study

04/28/21  
A recent study says climate change is worsening water scarcity in rural Alaska and a host of new strategies is needed to help address the issue, according to Eye on the Arctic.

Red Dog zinc sales dip amid climate change issues in Alaska

By Andrea Hotter   04/28/21  
The Vancouver, Canada-based company said the thawing is affecting the mine’s ability to discharge treated water, which is leading water levels at its tailings facility to rise. Teck is working to manage the increased water…

New federal program to help remote Alaska communities with renewable energy infrastructure

By Erin McKinstry   04/26/21  
Concerns around energy independence and high costs have led many places in rural Alaska to look for renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. The Department of Energy recently announced the awardees of a new program to help…

Climate change is worsening water scarcity in rural Alaska says study

By Eilís Quinn  Photo: Mark Ralston   04/21/21  
The study, “Participatory Modeling of Water Vulnerability in Remote Alaskan Households Using Causal Loop Diagrams” was published in the journal Environmental Management. “High income countries affected with water insecurity is a reality,” co-author Antonia Sohns,…