Wildfires

Alaska wildfire season kicks off

A spark from a snowmobile ignited dry grass south of a Bering Sea village, lighting up tundra and signaling that Alaska’s wildfire season is in full swing.

The freak fire Sunday covered 35 acres south of Unalakleet before smokejumpers arrived. It grew to 196 acres before they contained it.

The fire near the Yupik village 148 miles southeast of Nome was one of 13 weekend conflagrations that prompted the Alaska Division of Forestry to warn people not to be casual with outdoor fires.

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Global Warming

Alaska’s Excelsior Glacier Is Being Replaced by a Lake 5 Times the Size of Central Park

Seventy years ago, Alaska’s Excelsior Glacier stretched its cold fingers from a vast plain in the state’s southern edge nearly all the way to the North Pacific Ocean. Now, the glacier is separated from the sea by a meltwater lake more than five times the size of New York City’s Central Park.

In a recent blog post on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) website, glaciologist Mauri Pelto of Nichols College in Massachusetts shows how that relatively new lake — now called Big Johnstone Lake — has more than doubled in size over the last 24 years as rising global temperatures force Excelsior Glacier into a hasty retreat. The glacier has lost about 30% of its length in just 24 years.

Even if no more calving ice makes its way into Big Johnston Lake, the glacier will continue to retreat, but probably at a slower pace than the rapid melting observed over the last 25 years. A similar fate has already befallen many neighboring glaciers in Alaska and British Columbia, Pelto wrote, providing yet more examples of how climate change is rapidly redrawing the map of our world.

Environment

Trump’s Alaska drilling study slammed

The Trump administration failed to adequately consider oil spills, climate change and the welfare of polar bears in its expedited study of proposed drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to comments published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The unusually harsh criticism from federal wildlife regulators could deal a blow to one of the most high-profile items in President Donald Trump’s energy agenda, and reflects the pitfalls of the administration’s drive to speed up big projects with quicker, shorter environmental studies.

The Interior Department wants to hold its first lease sale of at least 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) in ANWR, America’s largest wildlife sanctuary, later this year, but could face lawsuits if its permitting process is flawed.

Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska: 

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Global Warming

Alaska bakes under heat wave linked to climate change

Alaska residents accustomed to subzero temperatures are experiencing a heat wave of sorts that is shattering records, with the thermometer jumping to more than 16.7 degrees Celsius above normal in some regions.

Cities and towns in the northern half of the state, including Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Barrow (also known as Utqiagvik), could see temperatures soar 14 to 22 degrees Celsius above normal this weekend as the warm trend continues.

The dramatic warming Alaska has experienced in recent years — which is partly linked to a decline in sea ice and Arctic ocean warming – had wreaked havoc on local communities, wildlife and the economy.

Many recreational sled dog races have had to be canceled this year and the routing of the famed Iditarod race had to be changed as what is normally solid sea ice was open water on part of the race route.

Crab fishing has also been affected as the sea ice used as a platform for fishermen was non-existent or too thin in some areas.

Seal population is also likely to be affected in the coming months as some of the species give birth on solid ice.

The warmer temperatures have melted the rive ice to the extent it is no longer safe for truck or car travel.”

Global warming had led to the lowest ice levels in the Bering Sea — which connects with the Arctic Ocean – since 1850, when sea ice records began.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 earthquake hits the D’Entrecasteaux Islands.

5.8 earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.6 earthquake hits Reykjanes Ridge.

5.5 earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

5.5 earthquake hits Reykjanes Ridge.

5.4 earthquake hits the southwest Indian ridge.

5.3 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.2 earthquake hits Reykjanes Ridge.

5.1 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.1 earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 earthquake hits southeastern Alaska.

5.1 earthquake hits the southwest Indian ridge.

5.1 earthquake hits Guam.

5.0 earthquake hits the western Indian-Antarctic ridge.

5.0 earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 earthquake hits southeastern Alaska.

5.0 earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.7 earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.6 earthquake hits New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

5.1 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits Komandorskiye Ostrova, Russia.

5.1 earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

Two 5.1 earthquakes hit south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.0 earthquake hits northern Alaska.

5.0 earthquake hits the Red Sea.

5.0 earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 earthquake hits south of Alaska.

5.2 earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.2 earthquake hits the western Ryukyu Islands off Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits the Azores.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits eastern Honshu, Japan.

5.1 earthquake hits north of Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits southern Alaska.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.8 earthquake hits Acre, Brazil.

5.8 earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

5.7 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.2 earthquake hits northern Alaska.

5.1 earthquake hits Tonga,

5.1 earthquake hits the Philippine Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Kepulauan Mentawai, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits southern Alaska.

5.0 earthquake hits near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits central Mongolia.

5.0 earthquake hits the Savu Sea.

5.0 earthquake hits south of Java, Indonesia.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 earthquake hits near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Two 5.1 earthquakes hit the South Sandwich Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits southern Alaska.

5.0 earthquake hits Carabobo, Venezuela.

5.0 earthquake hits the Komandorskiye Ostrova region, Russia.