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Study: Arctic undergoing holistic climate-change response

Fairbanks, Alaska From glaciers to caribou, rivers to roads, Arctic climate change is having a broad effect on almost every aspect of life in the North. That's the conclusion University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers and others outline in a paper to be published in the October 2005 issue of the journal "Climatic Change."

The paper is a result of decades of research by dozens of scientists in multiple disciplines, said Larry Hinzman, a research professor with UAF's Water and Environmental Research Center and the paper's lead author. It is one of the first of its kind to present a comprehensive examination of the broad array of effects attributed to a changing climate within the Arctic and shows that warming has a cascading effect on the land, vegetation, animals, weather and human systems.

"This paper looks at how changes in one component can reverberate through an entire system," said Hinzman. "It really makes the point that you can't look at individual components; you have to look at the system as a whole."

Those effects tend to be more obvious in the Arctic.

"We are so close to the freezing point of water," Hinzman said. "When you change a system from frozen to unfrozen it has dramatic impacts and dramatic consequences." Researchers, including a dozen from UAF, started work on the paper in 2002, Hinzman said. It primarily draws on research done in Alaska, as well as studies in Siberia and Canada.

"There were dozens and dozens of research programs that fed into this," he said.

The project was funded through the National Science Foundation's Arctic System Science program. Hinzman said the foundation in recent years has encouraged such collaborative projects as a way to use research to paint a more comprehensive picture.

"NSF is trying to get the most value out of their research investments," he said, "They are also trying to get the most correct understanding of the Arctic and its response to a changed
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Contact: Marmian Grimes
marmian.grimes@uaf.edu
907-474-7902
University of Alaska Fairbanks
28-Oct-2005


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