Many people in Alaska are surprised to hear that the second major use of energy in Alaska (next to industrial usage) is not home and building space heating, but rather transportation. When looking at all the fuel and heat used to transport people around the state both on and off the road system, in transporting food and goods up to Alaska from other states/countries, and in getting up to develop our main energy resources on the North Slope- transportation use takes up about a third of our energy consumed.
Today (6/24) there was an article in the Alaska Dispatch about the declining days of usage in which the major thoroughfares up to Alaska’s oilfields could be used. To drive large vehicles on the tundra for servicing rigs frozen soils and ice roads have been depended upon. Currently, with the climate changing to warmer soils those permafrost soils have been thawing and restricting the ability to drive and move equipment in the ordinary methods of the past. This spring saw the “Haul Road” (Dalton Highway) was closed in sections for quite some time due to overflow. Many of the North Slope suppliers rely on Ironically, though not all due to warming climate trends, the thawing out of the Arctic is hampering the access for production of our energy resources. Yet as seen in the article today there are engineers utilizing simple interventions such as snow pack (and more complex methods) to try to keep the transportation moving!