A record-breaking heat wave recently resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish throughout Alaska. Highs of over 90 degrees devastated trout and salmon hatcheries in the state by making the water too warm for many forms of aquatic life to survive.
The first incident happened in June, when hundreds of grayling and rainbow trout near Fairbanks were found dead in the 76-degree water. Even more horrifying is an incident in which an estimated 1,100 salmon died while returning to a lake to spawn this summer.
The effects of the heat wave don’t end with fish die-offs. It’s also created an elevated wildfire risk throughout much of Alaska, with over a million acres already burned over the course of the summer. As of Friday there were a total of 75 active fires burning throughout the state.
So is there a link between this heat wave and climate change? Almost certainly. Interestingly enough, Alaska is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Over the past few years we’ve seen summer temperatures go higher and higher in the icy state, causing permafrost to melt and entire towns to be engulfed by rising rivers and mud. Unfortunately, this trend seems likely to continue next summer as well.