Thursday, February 19, 2015

IN THE NEWS: Climate Change Puts Alaska's Sled Dog Races On Thin Ice

The U.S. Northeast may have had the snowiest season on record (Boston) but ALASKA and the Western U.S. continued to have another warmer than normal Winter. In fact, Alaska has had so many that it's obvious that climate has changed and that's even affecting sled dog races. Check out this interesting story that NPR ran on Feb 7, 2015.
- Rob and Tom 


The sun sets over a swath of black spruce forest blanketed by a thin layer of snow in Alaska's interior. Unseasonably warm weather has Alaskans worried about the impact of climate change on dog sledding.
PHOTO RIGHT:  The sun sets over a swath of black spruce forest blanketed by a thin layer of snow in Alaska's interior. Unseasonably warm weather has Alaskans worried about the impact of climate change on dog sledding.

Climate Change Puts Alaska's Sled Dog Races On Thin Ice

 
Emily Schwing/NPR
   For more than 30 years, the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race, which began Saturday, Feb. 7th has followed the Yukon River between Whitehorse, Canada, and Fairbanks, Alaska.
   A little open water along the Yukon Quest trail is nothing new, but in recent years, long unfrozen stretches of the Yukon River have shaken even the toughest mushers.
    Last year, musher Hank DeBruin of Ontario had stopped along the Yukon River to rest his dog team in the middle of the night, when the ice started to break up.  "I was sleeping in my sled bag and I heard a roar, sounded like freight train," DeBruin says. "So I threw all my stuff in the sled bag, pulled my dogs and my sled up the bank a bit and turned around, and there was wide-open water where the sled was sitting five minutes earlier."
Stories like DeBruin's have become more common, raising concerns about the impact of climate change on Alaska's state sport.
    Mushers have plenty of anecdotal evidence of warming temperatures and the impact on their sport. Cody Strathe of Fairbanks says warmer temperatures and dwindling snow have changed how he trains his dog team.
"Normally dogs like to run at colder temperatures, usually like below zero," Strathe says. "So we try to run more at night so they have those nice cold temperatures, which they tend to like more with their nice big fur coats."
Sled dogs prefer below-zero weather for running, says musher Cody Strathe. Some mushers now train at night, when it's colder.

Courtesy Yukon Quest
i
Sled dogs prefer below-zero weather for running, says musher Cody Strathe. Some mushers now train at night, when it's colder.
       Dog teams need snacks during the race, so Strathe and other mushers cut up frozen chunks of meat and tripe. Eventually all that meat gets packed into drop bags and sent out to checkpoints along the trail.
"If it's really warm out, our meat can thaw and spoil, and then that is bad for the dogs," he says. "They can get sick or have nothing to eat, so we have to package our food in ways so it can stay cold longer."
Strathe insulates his bags with bubble wrap to help keep them frozen. Other mushers add blocks of ice or even snow. Mushers are also packing gear for a wider variety of trail conditions. In recent years, they've carried rubber boots and chest waders in anticipation of open water. They've also packed raincoats for themselves and their dogs.

National Weather Service Climatologist Rick Thoman says a day will come when climate change delivers a more serious blow. 
   "We will reach a point where this starts to affect the ability to have these races," Thoman says. "Whether this is in five years or 50 years or 100 years is an open question."
That open question looms large for Alaska's state sport and the economy surrounding it. Unseasonably warm winter weather has slowed other dog races. Paige Drobny, a musher for eight years who will drive a dog team in the 1,000-mile Iditarod in March, says she's not sure how long her racing career will last.

CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE NPR STORY FROM FEB 7th>>>> http://www.npr.org/2015/02/07/384447404/climate-change-puts-alaskas-dog-sled-races-on-thin-ice


 "With the weather that we're having, if we don't get winters here soon, I think that there's going to be no choice but for the sport to die out, if we don't get some snow in the state," Drobny says.
    Drobny says she and her husband spend upwards of $70,000 a year to raise and maintain their dogs. The potential loss of mushing both as a sport and a draw for tourists could have a big economic impact in Alaska.
This year, Yukon Quest officials considered moving the start line of the race because of open water and thin ice on rivers near Whitehorse. A last-minute drop in temperature and a snowstorm gave race personnel a reprieve.
Mushers are hoping for a smooth run, but their sleds are still packed with extra gear, just in case.

ORIGINAL STORY: http://www.npr.org/2015/02/07/384447404/climate-change-puts-alaskas-dog-sled-races-on-thin-ice

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14