Submitted to: Proceedings of Agricultural Research Service Global Change Workshop
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: During the last two decades, the Matanuska Valley located on the coastal side of the Alaska range of mountains and the Tanana Valley located in interior Alaska have warmed 24 and 40 growing degree days (40 F base), respectively. This has reduced the danger of failure of marginal crops due to early frost, and led to increased land in production and higher average crop yields. During warmer summers crops yields have decreased due to increased water stress indicating the need for irrigation to maintain yield if the warming trend continues, as predicted. This will require the construction of irrigation facilities and the enactment of water use laws. The warmer summers and longer tourist season has led to a market increase i tourism, which has had a positive effect on the business community.
Technical Abstract: The past two decades have been the warmest on record for Alaska. There has also been a sharp increase in population since the late 1970s. The warming trend and increased population has led to an increase in land used for agriculture and tourism. Both of these activities have environmental impacts through the clearing of forest to build roads or to farm the land. Recent studies indicate that the warming trend has decreased the chances o crop loss due to early frost, but has increased the water stress on agricultural crops. If this trend continues as predicted, it may be necessary to irrigate for maintain yields. This will require the development of irrigation facilities and the implementation of water use laws. Tourism will likely increase because of longer and warmer tourist seasons.