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2016-09-15. Above the Arctic Circle, climate change closes in on Barrow.

posted Sep 28, 2016, 6:49 AM by Alan Gould

By Adam Popescu, Washington Post. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: BARROW, Alaska — Here in the northernmost municipality of the United States, 320 miles above the Arctic Circle, people are facing the idea that they may soon be among the world's first climate-change refugees. Warming air, melting permafrost and rising sea levels are threatening their coastline, and researchers predict that by midcentury, the homes, schools and land around Barrow and its eight surrounding villages will be underwater. This despite decades of erecting barriers, dredging soil and building berms to hold back the water. "The coastline is backing up at rates of [30 to 65 feet] per year," says Robert Anderson, a University of Boulder geomorphologist who has studied Alaska's landscape evolution since 1985 and who first noticed in the early 2000s how alarming the erosion was becoming. ...When the sea ice melts, the coast becomes exposed to waves, wind and storms that slam into the shore, causing erosion. As ice moves farther from shore, waves can be as high as 20 feet when they reach land, Anderson says. "The only thing we can do, as far as I'm concerned, is move our towns inland," says Mike Aamodt, the former acting mayor of Barrow and its surrounding villages of the North Slope Borough, which stretches over 89,000 square miles, an area larger than Utah. ...The giant bowhead whales native to this part of the Arctic are actually prospering with warming seas here. But it's a different question for the humans....  http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/above-the-arctic-circle-climate-change-closes-in-on-barrow/article_1e241b12-7911-11e6-bfe4-233b326bfe57.html