|Title||PIs||CoPI(s)||Other Project Members||Start Date||End Date||Abstract||Programs||Funding Agency||Implementation Categories||Keywords||Region||Grant/Project Funding Amount||Project Identifer(s)||Project Web Link||Weblink to data and/or metadata||Outreach/Education Description|
|Diamonds and Oil from the Tundra: A System Study on the Impact of Changing Seasons on Mining and Oil Exploration|
Matthew Sturm (SnowHydroAK@gmail.com)
Natural resource extraction is the backbone of the arctic economy. Oil and gas exploration and production taxes account for 88% of the State of Alaska’s revenue, providing $10.2 billion in fiscal year 2008. In addition, 4,400 direct and 37,344 indirect Alaskan jobs are due to this industry. In Canada, oil and gas are also crucial to the economy, but so too is diamond mining, with a total value of diamond extraction in the Northwest Territories of $2 billion in 2007. As a result, Canada is the 3rd largest diamond producer in the world. The mines employ about 4,000 people, roughly 35% of whom are Aboriginal. These arctic oil, gas, and mining activities occur predominantly in remote locations off the all-weather road system, so alternate forms of transport of fuel, equipment, and people are heavily used. In Alaska, oil exploration occurs in winter under state regulations that require sufficient snow and frost to protect the tundra. In Canada, trucks take thousands of loads up a 600-km ice road to supply the diamond mines with fuel and material. These essential winter operations hinge on predictable seasonal transitions (summer-to-winter; winter-to-summer) and cryospheric conditions, but data indicate the spring thaw comes as much as 3 weeks earlier than 50 years ago, and lake and river ice break up earlier than before. These seasonal shifts are already having an adverse impact on minerals and oil/gas activities in the North, with a trickledown impact on local and Northern economies. No formal economic-based analysis has been done to assess how changing seasonal patterns are impacting these vital industries of the North. This research will conduct a pilot effort to identify means of answering this question, as well as two ancillary questions: How are anticipated changes in cryosphere seasonality likely to affect such economic performance in the next decade? and Are there adaptive strategies that can reduce the sensitivity of these key industrial sectors to future changes?
This pilot effort will focus on how changing seasons impact the Canadian diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories through alteration of the reliable period when ice roads can be utilized, increased variability of that open period, and the economic consequences of uncertainty. Here they will use combined economic and cryospheric models to examine the impact of season length on the regional economy. Researchers will observe how environmental data are collected in the field, how they are utilized by regulatory agencies to make decisions, and how businesses weigh climate impacts with other factors in their operations. Based on these studies, the team will isolate the impact of climate-driven changes in seasons from the other factors. The outcome of the project will be explicit information on the extent to which climate-driven changes in seasons are affecting ice road use. More generally, it will be a methodology (including modeling) of how to distinguish climate drivers from non-climate drivers for uniquely Northern businesses.
|Arctic System Science Program||National Science Foundation||Understanding Change|
|Bering Sea Sub Network: A Distributed Human Sensor Array to Detect Arctic Environmental Change|
Lilian Alessa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This award will support the continued implementation of the Bering Sea Sub-Network (BSSN), a regional initiative of community-based organizations in Western Alaska and Northeast Russia. The "Intellectual Merit" of BSSN lies in its operation as a distributed network which employs people as individual, coordinated sensors for local environmental observations of socio-ecological change. BSSN will address the following questions: (1) how have economically significant species changed over the past century and what strategies have residents used to cope with these changes; (2) what key biophysical variables and indicators may be correlated to changes in distribution and properties of ecologically significant species; (3) how well do indigenous and traditional knowledge and Western science show spatial/temporal convergence and statistical correlation at local and regional scales; and (4) what are the major trends, patterns and constraints in individual and community adaptation to changes? The "Broader Impacts" of this award include a better understanding of Arctic environmental system change and resilience, and how to develop appropriate adaptation strategies to change for Arctic communities. BSSN will leave a legacy for a broad community of arctic residents striving to organize an observing system that is a valid partner in pan-Arctic environmental system observations. A key product will be a widely disseminated and highly accessible publication entitled The State of the Bering Sea Bioresources: Perspectives of Local Residents, an assessment based on observations of local and indigenous observers. Other products will include a tool kit for communities to develop their own observing programs based on the framework of BSSN, and an annual illustrated magazine aimed at the village and regional levels.
|Arctic Observing Network||National Science Foundation|
Education / Outreach
|Bering Sea Sub-network: International Community-Based Observation Alliance for Arctic Observing Network (BSSN)|
Victoria Gofman (email@example.com)
Indigenous peoples around the economically important Bering Sea region are launching a project that will monitor environmental changes in the region. The project will involve Native organizations in western Alaska and in the Russian northeast.
The Bering Sea, one of the most productive seas in the world, which includes globally important habitats for many biological resources, is now undergoing far-reaching environmental changes including climate change that alarm scientists, coastal residents and others from around the world. The region is of vital economic importance to both the US and Russia. The health, economic well-being, and ways of life of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the region are connected to the Bering Sea and its natural resources. The socioeconomic development of coastal villages along the Bering Sea, on both the Russian and United States sides, is dependent on maintaining ecologically sustainable conditions in the region.
"This monitoring project is critical to the future of the region and of the peoples who live there," says Michael Zacharof, the president of the Aleut International Association, which is leading the project. "People in our communities notice even the slightest changes in nature but they do not have resources and tools to document them properly and to conduct research. In the Native communities, there are no "field seasons". We are in the field all year around and we think it is necessary to bring research, monitoring and observation capabilities to the local communities. By involving the people who live there, we can do this cost-effectively."
The Bering Sea Sub-Network: International Community-Based Environmental Observation Alliance for Arctic Observing Network (BSSN), endorsed by IPY Joint Committee, will involve six local indigenous communities, three each in the U.S. and Russia, to monitor and share the changes they observe. Changes could include the shift of southern species north, changes in distribution and abundance of fish and other temperature-sensitive species, changes in ice patterns, and weather observations. Observations will be collected using surveying methods across the network based on standard protocols. BSSN will address the questions of: 1) historical and present distribution and properties of economic and subsistence important species as derived from collective indigenous and traditional knowledge; 2) types of major variables and indicators that could be correlated with western science to develop predictable models based on indigenous and traditional knowledge; and 3) spatial and temporal convergence and divergence of community-derived and western science data.
This project will assess large scale environmental changes in the Arctic by looking at both the physical and human dimensions of change and its impact. Success of this project will leave a legacy not only for IPY but also for a broad community of arctic residents striving to organize an observing system that is a valid partner in pan-arctic observations.
Arctic Observing Network
International Polar Year
|National Science Foundation||Observing Change|
|NOAA Salmon Survey 2007|
Kathleen Crane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS) is NPAFC's coordinated program of cooperative research on Pacific salmon in the Bering Sea that was designed to clarify the mechanisms of biological response by salmon to the conditions caused by climate changes.
Scientific issues that provide necessary direction to the research include (but are not limited to):
Seasonal-specific migration patterns of salmon and their relation to the Bering Sea ecosystem
Key biological, climatic, and oceanographic factors affecting long-term changes in Bering Sea food production and salmon growth rates
Similarities in production trends between salmon populations in the Bering Sea and common factors associated with their trends in survival
Overall limit or carrying capacity of the Bering Sea ecosystem to produce salmon.
|Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
Responding to Change
|NOAA-FOCI (Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations)|
Allen Macklin (email@example.com)
FOCI (Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations) is a joint research program between the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (NOAA/National Marine Fisheries/AFSC) and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (NOAA/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research/PMEL). The program was established by NOAA in 1984 to study relationships between the marine environment and the survival of commercially valuable fish in the western Gulf of Alaska. Walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) was the first fish species examined in these studies. Since the inception of the program, the scope has evolved to encompass study of the ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea with the goals of improving understanding of ecosystem dynamics and applying that understanding to the management of marine resources.
FOCI comprises physical and biological oceanographers, atmospheric scientists, and fisheries biologists from federal and academic institutions. FOCI promotes cooperation between scientific disciplines, while determining the influence of the physical environment on marine populations and the subsequent impact on fisheries. Substantial variations exist in the natural processes of the Gulf of Alaska. Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands, ranging from temperature and salinity changes, to fluctuations in sea-ice extent, atmospheric forcing, tidal influences, freshwater influx, productivity and mixed-layer depth. These variations occur on many timescales: seasonal, annual, decadal and longer. FOCI scientists integrate field, laboratory and modeling studies to determine how varying biological and physical environmental trends influence this large region.
|National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration||Observing Change|
Gulf of Alaska
North Pacific Ocean
|Environmental Variability, Bowhead Whale Distributions, and Inupiat Subsistence Whaling - Linkages and Resilience of an Alaskan Coastal System|
Carin Ashjian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The coupling between atmosphere, sea ice, ocean, Bowhead whales, and subsistence whaling by the Native human populations is fundamental to the physical-biological-human systems of the Northern Alaska Coast. Whale migration routes and habitat use are determined by zooplankton aggregations, which are driven by oceanographic conditions, which depend on the climatic regime. Successful hunting depends on interactions between environmental and societal factors that vary each year and are driven by forces originating outside the system. This complex suite of environment-whale-human factors comprises a system that is vulnerable both to global climate and human generated change. This proposal seeks to identify and understand the complex linkages, mechanisms, and interactions within and between the atmosphere, ocean, and human components of this system. The response and resilience of these components and the system as a whole to variable forcing by external environmental change will also be investigated. The work is highly interdisciplinary and focuses on the linked ocean-human systems of coastal Alaska, concentrating specifically near Barrow, Alaska.
Four distinct yet highly interrelated approaches to understanding the system are used: 1) Biological and physical ocean modeling to identify mechanisms of frontal and eddy formation and plankton aggregation, to describe the effects of environmental forcing from outside on the local ocean, and to understand longer term, past and future variability in outside forcing on whaling success, 2) High resolution field sampling to demonstrate presence of physical features and associated biological concentrations and to validate modeling, 3) Assessment of the resilience and vulnerability of the subsistence hunting economy and culture in Barrow, and 4) Retrospective analysis synthesizing modeled ocean and climate conditions with available information on whale location, feeding, and harvest success to asses the resilience and vulnerability of the whale-ocean-human system to environmental change.
Intrinsic Merit: On the local scale, the results of the research will provide a greater understanding of the factors influencing a natural resource, demonstrating linkages between discovery and application to policy issues of Bowhead whale management. The social structure and fabric of the Inupiat communities are intimately linked to the whaling tradition and are particularly vulnerable to both environmental change and human-generated pressures. On the broader scale, the research will address how multiple physical, biological, and human factors are linked in a complex natural system that may be critically affected by environmental variability. Biogeochemical and physical manifestations of climate change in this region (e.g., ice reduction, changes in marine mammal migration and ecosystem structure) will have consequences for local human linkages to the Arctic ecosystem by influencing hunting success, ease of travel, and the relative importance of subsistence and cash economies and are representative of those of the broader Arctic with important impacts on global carbon cycling. All these topics are highly relevant to the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) program. This project is cutting-edge in that it assimilates research of multiple disciplines from oceanography to social science to address questions that can only successfully be answered using this multi-faceted, integrative approach.
Broader Impacts: The locally relevant science proposed for this project is of significant interest to the Barrow community and neighboring villages, to policy makers at the IWC, NOAA, and MMS, and to the broader public. The interdisciplinary collaborative partnership between academic researchers and staff at a federal agency and at a regional wildlife management agency is an investment in human and social capital that enhances the broader research infrastructure. Climate variability and its effects on access to and mobility within the Arctic Ocean have broader impacts for global and local commerce and national security. The proposed high school internship program involves the participation of native people who are often underrepresented in the fields of science and technology. Broader involvement of high school students and teachers through the ARMADA program will communicate to the scientists of the next generation understanding of field research, of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, and of the importance of climate variability to this ecosystem.
|Study of the Northern Alaska Coastal System||National Science Foundation|
Northern Alaskan Coast