Many areas in Alaska are already showing signs of climate change. In order to understand what these changes may be like, data from a composite of five down-scaled global circulation models was used to estimate decadal averages of future temperature and precipitation values within Izembek National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). These models assume a steady increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion over the first several decades of the 21st century, followed by a gradual decline in emissions as several kinds of low-emission energy alternatives become more prevalent.
Temperatures are projected to increase over the coming decades at an average rate of about 1°F per decade. Average annual temperature is expected to rise by about 5°F by 2040 and as much as 8°F by 2080.
A likely outcome of these changes is a lengthening of the growing season, a change that could have profound affects on wildlife mating cycles, plant growth and flowering, water availability in soil and rivers, and hunting and fishing.
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