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A hearing on the effects of Arctic climate change Friday shed light on the plight of dozens of villages across Northwest Alaska.

Senator Mark Begich met with tribal council representatives, scientists and federal officials in Downtown Anchorage, and took testimony about the effects of erosion, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. The information is both scientific and anecdotal.

Melanie Bahnke, president of Kawerak, Inc., said her corporation has collected eyewitness accounts from hundreds of hunters and fisherman who’ve spent their lives in bush Alaska. They report higher shorelines, softer ice and stronger storms. Thomas Ravens, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said Northwestern Alaska is particularly sensitive to climate change: On the low, wet Yukon-Kuskowkwim Delta, Ravens said even a 40 cm sea level rise could create a brackish wet sedge meadow reaching 7 km inland.

Last Saturday, in a ceremony at the American Legion Post 16 that has been done thousands of times since 1776, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, presented a combat soldier with a group of medals honoring his sacrifice and service — with one difference.

Sgt. Randy Clifford, U.S. Army, First Cavalry Division (Air), 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment, earned his medals decades ago.

“It is truly my privilege to stand here today and deliver what’s an unbelievable group of medals 42 years after you last saw your medals,” Begich said.

Along with the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal, Clifford received the Bronze Star for heroism under fire, the Purple Heart for his wounds in action and the Air Medal with seven devices, signifying that he flew at least 125 combat hours.