Climate Change, Farming, and Gardening in Alaska: Cultivating Opportunities
Ongoing climate change and associated food security concerns are pressing issues globally, and are of particular concern in the far north where warming is accelerated and markets are remote. The objective of this research was to model current and projected climate conditions pertinent to gardeners and farmers in Alaska. Research commenced with information-sharing between local agriculturalists and climate modelers to determine primary questions, available data, and effective strategies. Four variables were selected: summer season length, growing degree days, temperature of the coldest winter day, and plant hardiness zone. In addition, peonies were selected as a case study. Each variable was modeled using regional projected climate data downscaled using the delta method, followed by extraction of key variables (e.g., mean coldest winter day for a given decade). An online interface was developed to allow diverse users to access, manipulate, view, download, and understand the data. Interpretive text and a summary of the case study explained all of the methods and outcomes. The results showed marked projected increases in summer season length and growing degree days coupled with seasonal shifts and warmer winter temperatures, suggesting that agriculture in Alaska is undergoing and will continue to undergo profound change. This presents opportunities and challenges for farmers and gardeners.
Fresco, N.; Bennett, A.; Bieniek, P.; Rosner, C.. 2021. Climate Change, Farming, and Gardening in Alaska: Cultivating Opportunities. Sustainability. 13, 22: 12713. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/22/12713#cite. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212713.