Feb 102013
 
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As permafrost thaws, trees begin to tilt and fall, hence the Drunken Forest.

As Alaska permafrost begins to thaw, trees begin to tilt and fall, hence the name Drunken Forest.

Alaska, like the rest of the United States, will be affected by climate change but is it the best place, overall, to live? Can you survive, even thrive, in our coldest state?

It’s a good thing that Alaska is cold because this state has “warmed at more than twice the rate of the United States on average…” over the last 50 years. Here the temps have risen 3.4 degrees F. It means the snow belt is now melting 10 days earlier and the snow days are continuing to be shorter. The other news is Alaska is colder than the rest of the 48 United States and Hawaii to begin with. And this state is predicted to become warmer still.

Less snow means a longer planting season and climate models also show increased precipitation for Alaska. However, still higher temperatures will bring about drier conditions in general, including “reduced soil moisture.”

Another problem unique to the far north is Drunken Forests.  The name was given because when the permafrost below ground melts, trees tip over. Other objects subject to permafrost melting should be considered before setting up a home. This includes things such as roads, runways, water and sewer systems and other infrastructures. Homes, too, are also a target.

A REASON WHY NOT TO BUILD A HOME NEAR THE ALASKAN COAST:

16-alaska-pg-143-topBy 2027 parts of coastal towns and infrastructure will be destroyed by erosion. See map.

Also don’t build on the coast or islands because of rising seas, violent storms plus melting  ice and permafrost again. Your house, again, is subject to nature’s removal. And offshore earthquakes can generate large tsunamis. Back in the 60s, an earthquake generated a tsunami estimated at 90 feet  in height and blasted a coastal community.

Climate change has interfered with the life cycle of Alaskan spruce trees, too. That and an extensive drought has made it possible for spruce beetles to have destroyed a large part of Alaskan forests. And with that came the wildfires.

“By the end of this century, area burned by fire is projected to triple under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario and quadruple under a higher emissions scenario.” More details.

Alaska is twice as big as Texas but only has a population of around 700,000.  It has a lot to offer but, like everywhere else, changes are happening rapidly. For example, lakes that aren’t fed by rivers or springs are drying up because of climate change, So keep that in mind. There still is an abundance of wildlife to support you but, again, changes in the movements of fish and animals are in the forecast so do your homework and pick a site carefully. Here is a listing of affordable homes in Anchorage, Alaska, a sampling of housing in the city.

Ketchikan, Alaska-Jim Nista, 7-July 2010

Ketchikan, Alaska-Jim Nista, 7-July 2010

Consider any special taxes or benefits that may impact you as a new resident of Alaska. Age should not be a problem as long as you are in excellent health. You should have a retirement income and funds to rent, buy or build a home for shelter before moving to the far north. As for me, I would love to start anew in Alaska. I enjoy the outdoors and the serenity. I would not miss the mayhem that will surely take place with leaders driving us to the abyss.

I would consider Alaska as a permanent home if I were planning retirement, knowing what the future holds.

However, there are several more places left that I would also consider in the 48 contiguous states before I pick one. I will check them out.