The Arctic appears to become increasingly important on the international scene, with climate change being one of the drivers and new stakeholders bringing resources and attention to the region, says Canada's new Senior Arctic Official Alison Le Claire.
The decline of Alaska's biggest caribou herd appears to have stopped, biologists studying the herd report.The Western Arctic Caribou Herd, which numbered 490,000 in 2003 but dropped to less than half that a decade later, appears to have stabilized and is showing signs of increase, state and federal biologists told an advisory panel last week.
Climate change and the eco-hydrology of fire: Will area burned increase in a warming western USA?
By Donald McKenzie and Jeremy Littell
Wildfire area is predicted to increase with global warming. Empirical statistical models and process-based simulations agree almost universally. The key relationship for this unanimity, observed at multiple spatial and temporal scales, is between drought and fire.
Predictive models often focus on ecosystems in which this relationship appears to be particularly strong, such as mesic and arid forests and shrublands with substantial biomass such as chaparral. We examine the drought–fire relationship, specifically the correlations between water-balance deficit and annual area burned, across the full gradient of deficit in the western USA, from temperate rainforest to desert.
In the middle of this gradient, conditional on vegetation (fuels), correlations are strong, but outside this range the equivalence hotter and drier equals more fire either breaks down or is contingent on other factors such as previous-year climate. This suggests that the regional drought–fire dynamic will not be stationary in future climate, nor will other more complex contingencies associated with the variation in fire extent.
Predictions of future wildfire area therefore need to consider not only vegetation changes, as some dynamic vegetation models now do, but also potential changes in the drought–fire dynamic that will ensue in a warming climate.
US Geological Survey (ret.)
There will be no commercial fishing in international waters of the Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years under a landmark 10-government agreement reached on Thursday in Washington, D.C. The agreement will close off the 1.1 million-square-mile international zone in the center of the ocean — an area known as the "Arctic donut hole."
America is at a crossroads. Now more than ever there is uncertainty around water supplies and quality across the country. At the same time, innovative leaders in regions across the country are driving groundbreaking solutions to secure a sustainable water future, now and for future generations. How do we foster a new era of collaboration and progress in water management? How do we align policy at every level of government to accelerate the innovative solutions that local leaders are pioneering?
We posed these questions and asked for solutions at 15 different Listening Sessions with 500 people across the country. Today, we are proud to begin the rollout of our One Water for America Policy Framework with the executive summary. Through the Listening Sessions we heard from leaders on the front lines of managing our nation's waters: utilities, city officials, farmers, environmental groups, community organizations, investors, and more. The insights from the Listening Sessions were then organized into 7 Big Ideas for the sustainable management of water, which we will release as a series of policy briefs starting in January.
Months after dozens of walruses and thousands of birds died in mysterious circumstances in the Bering Sea, scientists have discovered a clue in the case: positive test results for algal toxins associated with warm waters. Four walruses and five seabirds were carrying saxitoxin, an algal biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. Whether the saxitoxin contributed to the deaths is unknown and unlikely to be determined, but it is a sign of changes in the Bering Sea, where waters are now warmer than they were in the past and where sea ice has been running at record lows for this time of year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
While ANWR fight grabs headlines, a different part of Alaska’s Arctic is seeing a burst in oil exploration
While debate is focused on a controversial budget measure to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a more accessible oil and gas frontier in Arctic Alaska is producing industry excitement and drawing significant investment. The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, or NPR-A, and adjoining state lands around the Colville River Delta on the western side of the North Slope have proved to be an attractive place for new oil development, thanks to recent and rich discoveries, accessibility of infrastructure.
Should an Alaska state agency be allowed to build a 211-mile road into the wilds of the Brooks Range to enable mine development in a remote part of the Arctic? That's the question a multiagency environmental review is asking of a controversial proposal to build the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project, which could open commercial opportunities for mining of copper and other mineral deposits in a now-roadless part of northwestern Alaska.