Alaska - Humans in Glacial Landscapes Case Study

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  • Alaska - Humans in glacial landscapes Case study
    • Opportunities for development
      • Oil & gas
        • Over 1/2 countries income
        • Most in tundra
        • Prudhoe bay = oil explotation
          • Trans-Alaskan pipeline links Prudhoe bay w/ Valdez = oil shipped to customers
      • Mineral resources
        • Tintina gold belt = $2.2 bil to GDP 2013
      • Fishing
        • Employs 79,000 & $5bil to economy
        • Largest fishing ports = Aleutian Island & Kodiak Island
      • Tourism
        • Wilderness scenery
        • 2 mil tourists = money & employment
    • Facts
      • Periglacial landforms
      • Northern parts of Alaska in Arctic circle
      • Upland = glaciers
    • Challenges to development
      • Environmental conditions
        • Cold - Prudhoe bay = -9 degrees
        • Snow & strong winds
          • Exposure = injury or death
            • Healthcare= long away
        • Dark all time = hard to live & work
      • Inaccessibility
        • Extremely remote & mountainous = difficult & expensive
        • Winter = only accessible by air or ice roads
        • Summer = ground too soft = no roads
        • Oil = hundreds kilometres from nearest town
        • Pop = small & scattered = long way from employment
      • Largest state by area = smallest pop
      • Most people live near coast = warmer & less remote
      • Challenges for building & infrastructure
        • Construction work only in summer
          • Days longer, warmer
        • Development = long & expensive
        • Permafrost = solid base to build on
          • If it melts = unstable = buildings collapse or pipelines fracture
    • Responses to cold conditions
      • Resilience
        • Emergency generators if power fails
        • However, remote communities = vulnerable if emergency generator break down = no power at all
        • Emergency food supplies, 40,000 people, 7 days
        • Dalton highway damaged = roll-ons cross tundra w/ fuel supplies = limited supply = prices rise
      • Mitigation
        • Utilidors = above ground corridors w/ water & sewage
          • Avoids digging in permafrost& risk melting = expensive & may still freeze
        • Buildings on thick gravel/stilts = no thawing permafrost below
          • Trans-alaskan oil pipeline on stilts to prevent permafrost damage = expensive
      • Adaptation
        • Working in cold = burn calories = employers make food available 24/7
        • Working practices adapted to weather = warming up breaks prevent frostbite & hypothermia
          • As often as every 20 mins
            • Isn't productive or economically viable
        • Many people run engines constantly, (hard to start in cold)

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