The Tongass Forest in southeast Alaska, a temperate rain forest, is experiencing record-low precipitation and severe drought conditions, impacting community hydroelectricity production.
Observation by Gavin Hudson:
The Tongass Forest in southeast Alaska is a temperate rain forest and is experiencing record-low precipitation and severe drought conditions. This has caused the electric utilities of southeast Alaska, who have historically depended on hydroelectricity as their main source of power, to switch to using diesel generation as primary. Low precipitation adversely affects forests and rivers as well, which threatens fisheries and can lead to forest wild fires.
Comments from LEO Editors:
Although Southeast Alaska is known for its significant annual rainfall, precipitation levels decreased over the past winter and spring seasons. The figure below shows the cumulative precipitation for Ketchikan in 2018, falling below normal for the majority of the year so far. Monthly precipitation projections for Metlakatla are variable. Overall, temperatures have been warm in 2018, but have largely fallen within normal ranges. However, climate projections estimate increasing temperatures for every month in the year.
The reduction in precipitation during 2017/2018 has led the National Weather Service to categorize current conditions in Southeast as drought. Hydroelectric plants on Swan Lake near Ketchikan and Black Bear Lake on Price of Wales Island stopped producing power this summer due to low water levels, switching power production to diesel powered generators. In addition to the impact on hydroelectric dams, the drought also affects community drinking water supply, seafood processes, salmon spawning streams and forest habitat. See news articles KRBD Drought in a Rainforest? Yes, US News Parts of Southeast Alaska Experience Drought Conditions and Southeast Alaska dries up in rare problem: a drought for more information. Erica Lujan
LEO Network has shared this observations with the Denali Commission.
Alicia Feak-Lent published a video describing the Metlakatla water shortage in Tsimshian with English subtitles.