COLLEGE PARK (8/6/20) — Philip Merrill College of Journalism students have published a groundbreaking report in the Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Timesillustrating the detrimental effects of global warming on military operations at three of Alaska’s four major U.S. military bases, all located in areas where permafrost is melting.

Guided by Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism Dana Priest, the students partnered on the project with the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism to produce a unique database showing the growing costs to taxpayers of maintaining military bases under climate distress.

Merrill College students Sara Karlovitch, Luciana Perez-Uribe, Julia Lerner and Lindsey Collins shared the byline. Howard Fellow Gracie Todd and graduate student Michelle Siegel also worked on the project. 

“The students combined extensive in-person and phone interviews with a database they created using Department of Defense budget requests to discover a devastating aspect of global warming,” Priest said. “It was not easy.”

The students found that in Alaska, it is not only wildlife and native communities that are deeply affected by warming temperatures but also Cold War-era U.S. military bases. Once facing closure, some of these bases, such as Eielson Air Force Base, have become strategically important again for their proximity to Russia, China and North Korea and the vast Arctic resources that global warming has made accessible to competing nations for the first time.

Using Department of Defense budget records, students found that military planners have requested more than $1 billion over the past five years to fund construction to keep the bases operational. While only a portion was for climate-related work, that portion is expected to grow.

Read the full story: As the world warms, costs rise for Alaska military bases

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Josh Land