Climate Change and Variability in Interior Alaska: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Data Integration and Synthesis for Understanding Regional Patterns Relevant to Stakeholders
Shannon McNeeley1, Martha Shulski1, Karin Lemkuhl2, John Walsh1
1University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Northern Interior region of Alaska is undergoing rapid change due to recent decades of a warming climate. This warming is believed to be shifting seasonal patterns and affecting ecosystem services, with localized impacts on subsistence people and land and resource management. There is a paucity of data for the region; however, disparate sets of biological and weather data do exist, along with a growing archive of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) documenting local observations of change and effects. This project will be a collaboration between the student, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Alaska Climate Research Center (ACRC), which aims to integrate and synthesize these datasets by framing questions within the context of local observations, and asking questions of relevance to stakeholders (i.e., local residents, agency personnel, and scientists who study arctic environmental change). As we collectively grapple with how to understand and adapt to these changes while sustaining valuable resources and ecosystem services, scaling data and observations of change to a local/regional level while asking the appropriate questions of those data is critical to increase our understanding of the change and to devise adaptive strategies for management and decision making. The collaborators will be performing statistical and content analysis on observational weather data, biological data and interview data to look for patterns of change and variability in two transects of the Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers of the Northern Interior. We will work with regional stakeholders in a reiterative process to provide results (in the form of reports, presentations, and a usable database) in the first year of the project, and to get feedback and additional observations for continuing the refinement of our questions and analysis.