Alaska’s rivers & streams are turning orange

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Alaska’s rivers are turning bright orange, and scientists are working to figure out exactly why.

In recent years, scientists have observed streams and rivers that have turned a vibrant orange color across Alaska’s Arctic region. The recent discoloration of the Salmon River, a designated national wild and scenic river in Kobuk Valley National Park, is of particular concern, according to the National Park Service. Data showed the river’s water was pristine before 2019, but in the summer of that year the Salmon’s clear waters suddenly turned orange-green.

This is also happening to rivers and streams throughout the Brooks Range in Alaska, according to Scientific American, and will likely occur in other parts of the Arctic.

The magazine’s new report on the phenomenon said scientists who have studied the rusting rivers believe climate change is ultimately to blame. Studies have shown that the Arctic is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world.

Those rising temperatures are thought to have caused the thawing of permafrost—ground that usually remains perennially frozen—in the national park and beyond. Still, how permafrost thaw has caused the rivers to turn orange remains unknown.



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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!