I was expecting to be cold and wet during my trip to Alaska. That’s what the weather there is usually like, even in the summer. I packed a down coat, wool hat, two pairs of gloves, rain gear, and long underwear. I should have brought more shorts instead.
My trip to Alaska in August lasted 12 days. For the first 10 days, I was treated to sunshine and record-setting heat. It rained only one day, and that was the day before I went home.
For the most part, I felt lucky to have such incredible weather for my trip. I was able to enjoy cycling, hiking, and sea kayaking, without having to worry that my hands would freeze. Part of me, though, felt worried.
During my time in Alaska, people kept telling me about how weird the weather had been in recent years. Lightning storms, for example, used to make the front page of the newspaper because they were so rare. Now, summer thunder and lightning happen all the time in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and other places. Warmer weather is probably to blame.
As temperatures rise, coastal towns are sinking. Glaciers are melting. Global warming seems to be having such dramatic effects in Alaska, it’s hard to ignore.
Paddling through icebergs in a sea kayak among seals and otters and watching a tidewater glacier calve are experiences I am incredibly thankful for. I hope we find a way to help the world’s ice survive, if only so that other people can appreciate this wonder of nature, in all its frozen glory.—Emily Sohn