(KXAN) — Earth’s temperature continues to rise. It has increased an average of 0.14° Fahrenheit every 10 years since 1880. In total, this is 2° Fahrenheit.

Courtesy: Climate.gov

But the increase has become more pronounced since 1981 with an average increase of 0.32° Fahrenheit, more than twice to average increased rise since 1880.

The effect this is having is not just limited to unusually hot summers and droughts. It is also having an effect on areas of the country getting less snow than normal. This is true in Alaska, home to the Iditarod.

The Iditarod is a big part of Alaska. The annual trail sled dog race has been around for 50 years. The 938-mile race happens in March and runs from Anchorage to Nome. It covers all of our nation’s 49th state.

A musher and his team in the Iditarod

Since 2000, climate change has affected this annual event. In 2003, 2015, and 2017, there wasn’t enough snow in the Alaska Range so the start had to be moved nearly 300 miles from Willow to Fairbanks. Even worse winter weather forced the start to move 30 miles in 2008.

The government agency keeping its eye on the weather is the Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. They report that creeks, lakes, and rivers along the route are not freezing as much as they used to.

When this happens one of two things might occur. First, an increase in vegetation is possible. That would hamper the racers.

Or, there will be bare ground where the ice should be. When this scenario occurs the ride is not smooth and both the racers and the dogs are susceptible to injury. Sleds could also break.

Musher tending to an injured dog, part of the racing team

Finally, with warmer temperatures come warmer storms producing rain rather than snow.

The snowball effect continues in that there will be fewer and fewer to compete in this event. Why would one want to compete in this annual event that is being threatened by weather conditions that are not conducive to racing?

This race commemorates the 1925 serum run. During the diphtheria outbreak, the relay of 20 dogsled teams delivered life-saving medication to Nome.

Over the past few years, in part due to the changing weather in Alaska, the number of racing teams has dropped. In 2023, only 33 teams competed. This is the fewest number of teams ever.

Still another reason we should all do our part to save our Mother Earth.