Alaska: Not A Winter Wonderland

I ran across this story on the UC San Diego Facebook page for its Climate Change in 4 Dimensions MOOC(Massive Open Online Course) , which I’ve just completed.

I don’t know about anyone else but my mental image of Alaska in wintertime is snow and ice, blizzards, forests and tundra. When I think about sled dog racing (whatever the morality of pushing animals to their physical limits for human competitions – I’m not getting into that here), I have pretty much the same image in my mind. I’ve been up to the Cairngorm sled dog races a couple of times, out of curiosity, and fair enough Scotland’s marginal on snow even on top of the Cairngorm plateau, but surely, in Alaska, the Iditarod, the most prestigious and challenging sled-dog race in the world…. surely it’s held on snow?

Like this photo, culled from the Wiki entry on the Iditarod and taken in 2007, perhaps?

800px-Robert_Sorlie_and_Iditarod_team_near_Nome

Or this German sled-dog race, also taken from Wiki?

800px-Frauenwald,_Hundeschlittenrennen,_6

But no! Here’s some photos of this year’s Iditarod, which just finished in Nome, Alaska, in March 2014.

iditarod-5

At least there’s some snow visible. How about this one?

iditarod-4

(Both the last two photos were swiped from Mashable – they have more but my conscience doesn’t let me steal all their photos and story. Go read it and see for yourself!)

Alaska’s just had its third warmest January on record, with average temperatures nearly 15 degrees F above average and an all-time record high of 62 degrees F at Lake Clark on 27th January. The details are on a NOAA website.

All this leaves me wondering…. the poor old Polar Bears are probably doomed, but I’m now thinking huskies, malamutes, samoyeds and other sled-dog breeds might follow them? What else will we lose?

 

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