Climate Change Impact on Native Alaska Culture

Alaska is on the front lines of dealing with climate change. Our state is warming at twice the rate compared to the Lower 48 states.

The farther north you travel in Alaska the greater the differential in temperatures is from past years.

 

Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) has warmed up 7 degrees and the sea ice no longer can be counted on.

Salmon are dying in rivers across Western Alaska because of warm waters.

The effects such as these are a problem since many Alaskan Natives still live off the land and sea.


The sea ice is needed by both animals and people. Polar bears live on the sea ice and den on the ice. The walrus give birth on the sea ice in the spring.

Climate change has caused the walrus to migrate earlier and stay less time on the ice.

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Frank “Boogles” L. Johnson II from Nome: “The problem that I face with the changing sea ice conditions is that the window for hunting sea mammals is ever decreasing.”

 

Hunters have in the past depended on the sea ice to get them to where the animals are.

With the ice shifting the way it is, it is hard to hunt and people have died because the ice no longer is thick enough to hold them during hunts.

Alaska has 31 villages that are endangered because of river or sea erosion.  The permafrost is melting and releasing methane. In addition, it tilts the buildings built on the permafrost and destroys pipe systems.

 

Alaskan Native are some of the first climate change migrants as the land they have known for 10,000 years falls apart around them.