Arctic Breeding Birds Need Our Attention
April 24, 2013
Earth Day this year has been dedicated to presenting “the face of climate change.” Nowhere is this face more on view than in Arctic Alaska. Like the birds I study, I migrate to this fantastic landscape every summer.
At 231,000 square kilometers, Arctic Alaska is larger than Minnesota and encompasses most of the northern portion of the state and the entire Arctic coastal plain.
During the summer, the coastal plain transforms itself from a sub-zero inhospitable place to a vast productive wetland. Millions of migratory birds from all over the world – including waterfowl and shorebirds – return there to breed on the tundra: timing their nesting activities with melting snow and a bountiful flush of insects.
Working as a conservation biologist for the past 12 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the growing impacts of a warming planet in Arctic Alaska – where climate change is occurring at a rate more accelerated than anywhere else on this planet.