Alaska’s melting glaciers force people from their homes as sea rises – BBC News

well the impact of climate change is already very real for villagers on an island in northern alaska they're being forced out of their homes because of rising sea levels alaska is home to rapidly retreating glaciers where the rate of melting is among the fastest on the planet our climate editor justin rolat is in anchorage alaska's largest city he joins us now justin alaska is kind of like the the canary in the mine of climate change because temperatures are so close to freezing increase them just a little bit and you see very profound changes so ice that used to be frozen or snow that fell have melted in the late spring or the summer is melting or melting uh earlier and that is having a profound effect here in alaska as i've been discovering the top of our world is changing warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and it is destroying communities yeah my house it used to be about 20 feet out where you see the water breaks the island of shishmaref is on the front line of climate change as temperatures rise less sea ice forms exposing the coast it's getting later and later every year for this ocean to freeze up it's tough but kind of got to keep going as the climate changes the animals and fish the people here used to live on are getting harder to find right now we're supposed to be fishing in the lagoon and up the rivers now we've got to wait till like december probably january to start going up again parts of the main road have washed away and now the airstrip that is the community's lifeline to the outside world is threatened if it gets to the runway then we can't use it anymore we use the runway for medevacs we use a runway for getting all our food flown in the plan is to move the entire town onto the mainland it'll cost an estimated 180 million dollars but says dennis they've got no choice the climate's changing so fast and the storms are getting more violent and the ice isn't forming and the water is warming i mean it's i would say within the next five ten years this will all be covered easy just that one or two degrees makes a big difference and alaska isn't just struggling to cope with its new climate reality on the coast a century ago the glacier came all the way down here the entire valley was frozen and as recently as the 80s they built this visitor center because you could still see the glacier in the valley since then it has completely retreated around the corner and you can't see it at all we're almost around the corner we should be able to see the glee these days if you want to see the ice it is now a tough hike up and over a high pass this is all that remains of the once mighty portage glacier and mountain glasses aren't just melting here in alaska they are melting all over the world potentially affecting millions of people who depend on ice for their water supply if we didn't have glaciers we're no longer going to have drinking water for cities we might not have any hydropower potential especially for agricultural needs we would have water only maybe during the winter months and not during the summer months during the dry periods there will be no water back in shishmaref alfred is struggling to come to terms with the idea that his home will soon be gone well shishma means a lot to me because it's got a lot of heritage a lot of good people while we're here we just got to keep our tradition going just try to keep going strong it isn't easy to let go of the place where you've spent your entire life but if greenhouse gas emissions aren't cut rapidly it is something many millions more people are likely to have to face justin rolat bbc news alaska

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