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Record water levels threaten Juneau

By Dave Leval 8:28 PM July 11, 2014

Drivers slowly made their way along flood-covered roads near Mendenhall Lake Friday.

Warning signs were posted on 11 streets in the area. It’s the first time this has happened around Juneau.

The signs are due to a rising  problem. Water continues surging into the Mendenhall River from Mendenhall Lake.

It’s been this way since Wednesday when Suicide Basin above the lake began to drain.

The basin is releasing roughly 16,000 cubic feet of water per second.

The glacier acts as a dam for the lake. The concern is the extra water may have created a hole in the bottom of the glacier, which could make the situation worse.

Dr. Douglas Causey, a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said he believes climate change is responsible for what’s happening in Juneau.

“With warming air temperatures, glaciers are melting faster and the weather patterns are changing.”

The federal government finds temperatures around our state have rise nearly 3.5 degrees over the last 50 years. Winter warming is happening even faster as temperatures have gone up nearly 6.5 degrees over the same time period.

Douglas believes climate change has some benefits, especially where tourism and commerce are concerned.

“Because the ships can cruise up into the Arctic where they were once blocked by ice, we’re seeing a doubling of ships in Dutch Harbor and along the Arctic coast,” Douglas said.

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