92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 3:45 PM
Providing Usable Sea Ice Information to Native Coastal Communities in Arctic Alaska
Room 243 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Matthew L. Druckenmiller, CIRES/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO

The climate, sea ice, and coastal regime of Alaska's North Slope has substantially changed over the last few decades as coastal temperatures have increased and sea ice concentration in the adjacent seas has decreased. Indigenous users of sea ice and local planners increasingly face difficulty in assessing the relevance of regional change to their decision making environment, which includes issues relating to subsistence hunting of marine mammals, sea ice related hazards, coastal erosion, and offshore oil and gas development. Such decisions require science-based datasets that are often not easily accessible, digestible or immediately relevant. Furthermore, information products are needed that can interface with local and traditional knowledge such that local perspectives can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of important environmental processes. This presentation will outline a project that is working between the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and Alaska's North Slope Borough (NSB) to develop sea ice information tailored to local ways of understanding and observing the environment and the unique decisions facing coastal communities in Alaska. The three primary goals of this effort are to: (1) survey local community decision makers and ice-users regarding their broader information needs, preferred types of data products, and the technological, educational, or epistemological challenges they face in using science-based information, (2) identify the NSB's baseline data needs in order to track how ice conditions are impacting community activities and the marine mammals they depend on, and (3) assist the NSB in communicating environmental change to the local communities in a manner that complements their local and traditional knowledge and strategies for assessing ice conditions and associated hazards. This work is building off a five-year collaborative project with the indigenous whaling community of Barrow, Alaska to provide sea ice information (maps of the community's ice trails, ice trail thickness surveys, real-time coastal radar imagery of ice movement, satellite imagery of shorefast ice extent, etc.) to active hunters during the traditional spring whaling season.

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