Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024
Home » Baked Alaska: Climate Change’s Extreme Heat is Warming the State, and Creating National Security Problems

Baked Alaska: Climate Change’s Extreme Heat is Warming the State, and Creating National Security Problems

by Grayson Henderson
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FAIRBANKS, ALASKA – With extreme heat blanketing the country, chilly Alaska has become baked Alaska – and that is impacting national security.

Temperatures in the Arctic, which encompasses large parts of Alaska, have risen at two to four times the rate of the rest of the world.

Rising seas on Alaska’s shoreline have forced the Pentagon to fortify radar sites, covering the kind of sensors that picked up the Chinese spy balloon in January. High temperatures and spikes in summer rains are melting permafrost at places like Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, requiring millions of dollars in fixes for buildings sinking into sodden ground. Summer wildfires burning Canadian forests have closed vital training ranges and warplanes in Alaska.

Sprawling Alaska isn’t the buffer that it used to be for Pentagon bases. The spy balloon that penetrated U.S. airspace in January entered the United States over the Aleutian Islands. Spies from China have probed sensitive military sites in Alaska’s interior, USA TODAY has reported, and vanishing sea ice has opened shipping lanes to Chinese and Russian military and commercial vessels.

The Pentagon has responded by beefing up its presence in Alaska in recent years: the Air Force bases its most sophisticated fighter jets in the state; the Space Force has a new billion-dollar radar installation, and the Army is adding soldiers to the newly formed 11th Airborne Division to focus on Arctic warfare. The new emphasis comes with a cost: billions in construction to protect against rising seas melting permafrost, according to experts and budget documents.

“There’s a significant change afoot in the Arctic region,” said Iris Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Arctic and Global Resilience. “First, climate change is very much impacting operations on the ground. There’s changing permafrost, there’s coastal erosion…It’s causing us to rethink how and where we need to operate, and how and where we need to defend our interests.”

Source : USA Today

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