What Do Alaskans Need? : A Review of Documents Addressing Research Needs Related to Climate Change
Climate change is complicating the variables that Alaskans consider when planning for the future. Communities, agencies and other entities have begun to grapple with both the information that they need to adapt to a changing climate and how the processes and practices of science should change to make science more useful. We reviewed and coded sixty-three documents that expressed practical research needs related to climate change in Alaska. Our goals were to document stakeholder-defined research needs, assess whether there are spatial or topic-related gaps in needs assessment, and understand what stakeholders suggest about how science might be more relevant and useful in a changing climate. Overarching themes include the need for more baseline data to understand change, an interest in the social impacts of climate change, and a need to incorporate local perspectives. Research needs that were most frequently mentioned related to infrastructure, economics costs of climate change, adaptation planning, policy, and impacts to subsistence. Gaps included inadequate engagement of local perspectives and few examples of community-level assessments. Documents nearly unanimously expressed that science, as it is currently practiced, is unable to meet the challenges of climate change. They call for processes that are more transparent, collaborative, and accessible. They recommend changed practices including maintaining accessible data-sharing archives, building networks for knowledge sharing, and creating place-based long-term partnerships with communities. This review complements the climate-change literature by providing concrete suggestions about stakeholder relevant research needs as well as how to increase the utility of science from a region that is experiencing some of the most dramatic climatic change on the planet.
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