SNAP and the Fairbanks North Star Borough are developing a climate change task force to develop strategies for helping mitigate climate change by conserving energy, educating the public, and developing longer-range plans.
The climate in Interior Alaska is warming as rapidly as any other place on the planet and will likely continue to do so, with the most notable effects seen during winter and spring (November–April). Average temperatures in April and October are expected to shift from historically below freezing to above freezing in the coming century. While we expect slightly more precipitation, warmer temperatures will produce an overall net drying effect. Rapid warming is likely to result in:
- increased wildfire activity and accompanying smoke
- increased growing season for agricultural crops, with potential increased need for irrigation
- increased incidence of exotic plants, animals and insects
- changes in the plant composition of the boreal forest
- increased thawing of permafrost
Preliminary, qualitative analysis shows the areas that appear to be most vulnerable to climate change are air quality and forestry. Hydrology/water resources, wildlife and fish, and public health are also vulnerable.
Action areas and recommendations
There is a need for immediate action in all aspects of Borough administration and operations, and within community groups, to address climate change effects currently being experienced in Interior Alaska. There is also a need for long‐term strategic planning to address larger potential impacts, adaptations, and opportunities related to climate change.
Opportunities exist within the built environment for climate change mitigation, in the reduction of greenhouse gases. The Borough is uniquely positioned to:
- Implement local energy conservation and air quality control, both as a cost‐saving measure and to encourage individuals and businesses to follow this example
- Educate the public about actions they can take in support of an FNSB climate change resilience plan
- Coordinate with state and federal agencies and the university to be part of a more consistent and comprehensive effort regarding climate change in Interior Alaska
- Develop medium‐ and long‐term actions that should be part of an overall climate change resilience plan