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BARROW - A new facility for studying climate change opened in Barrow on Friday to a warm reception and cold temperatures.
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The $19.9 million, 20,000-square foot Barrow Global Climate Change Research Facility will be used by scientists doing research in the Arctic.
The Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp. built the federally funded facility three miles from downtown Barrow. The corporation will operate it through the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium.
"In the past, we would greet the visiting scientists with a smile and a handshake, and we will continue that spirit in this new building," said Barrow elder Kenneth Toovak.
Archaeologist Laura Thomas said her group, including some area high school students, was the first to move into the new center. The group is working on the Nuvuk dig site near Point Barrow to recover artifacts left by early commercial whalers before they are lost to the sea because of erosion.
"We are excited to be here, although we still have a lot of work to do to be fully operating," she said.
Program manager Richard Reich of Barrow Technical Services, a subsidiary of UIC, oversaw the project. He said it will eventually have 80,000 square feet and cost $61 million.
Reich said UIC and local folks will continue to work with the state's congressional delegation to secure the remaining funding.