Thursday, August 27, 2015

Climate Change Hits Barrow

A webcam at Barrow, Alaska shows coastal flooding from a moderate storm in the Arctic Ocean to the north. It is not a severe storm by Atlantic or Pacific standards, but Barrow was built on low-lying land. When Barrow was built no one expected the town would see the effects of summer storms because the sea ice that previously covered the Arctic Ocean would dampen any storm effects. In the last 20 years similar storms have threatened villages on the west coast of Alaska. Now with retreating sea ice, this effect has reached the north coast.

As sea ice retreats in future years and the sea waters warm, this kind of storm at Barrow will be a routine occurrence. It is easy to see that some buildings will need to be reinforced against the waves. In the long run, with a sea level rise of 7 meters on the way within 200 years or less, the entire town will eventually have to move to higher ground.

Update: In Alaska Dispatch News: High winds cause flooding in Barrow, prompts Shell to pause oil drilling