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KTVA: Senate hearing tackles Arctic climate change

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.