Coast Guard Admiral Finds Alaska Changed After 37 Years

Photographer: Michael Sewell

Calved ice with South Sawyer Glacier in background, Tracy Arm Fjord, Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska. Close

Calved ice with South Sawyer Glacier in background, Tracy Arm Fjord, Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

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Photographer: Michael Sewell

Calved ice with South Sawyer Glacier in background, Tracy Arm Fjord, Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

Count the Coast Guard commandant among those who've come away from trips to Alaska with an appreciation for the evidence of climate change. Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr. visited the state in August 2010, and was struck by the change in the landscape.

"I served in Alaska 37 years ago with my first assignment at the Coast Guard," Papp said July 13 at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington. He recalled a trip to a northern community in July 1976, which required a helicopter because of thick ice. On his more recent visit to the same area, the landscape was much different. "I could see no ice anywhere," he said.

"I don't make judgements on global warming or weather or anything else," he said. "But what I can tell you from a sailor's observation...With my powers of deduction -- and I'm a pretty smart guy -- I realized something was happening up there."

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