Sunday, February 3, 2013

Global Warming on Ground Hog Day?
Well ground hog day’s come and gone and, at least for the lower 48 states, the prognosticating rodent predicted a mild winter. But for Alaska, where there are no ground hogs, we’d probably need to consult the hoary marmot. According to Wikipedia, the hoary marmot (Marmota caligata) is the largest North American ground squirrel. They live near tree line throughout much of Alaska and inhabit burrows where grasses, sedges, and Krummholz forest dominate. That’s about right then, since we’re surrounded by Krumhardt forest around here.
As far as six more weeks of winter, well the squirrel savants not saying much, but we’d likely have at least another two months of cold weather regardless. This winter has been on the average, cooler than normal, but has been dominated by large temperature swings. While we’ve had half a dozen cold snaps where it got down to minus thirty or colder, we’ve had almost as many warm spells where it got to twenty above or warmer. It even rained in January, the first time that’s happened in over fifty years.  For some perspective on the recent climate trends in Alaska, see: “The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska”, Alaska Climate Research Center of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. (

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