Research Centers and Programs
Heterogeneity and Resilience of Human-Rangifer Systems: A Circumpolar Social-Ecological Synthesis is an international project involving 11 researchers from four arctic countries. The study is a retrospective and model-based analysis to understand the relative resilience and adaptability of regional Human-Reindeer/Caribou Systems to forces for global change. The project integrates (1) impacts of global-scale climate patterns on habitat and caribou energy budgets as related to animal reproductive performance, (2) socio-economic processes that affect human use of the resource, and (3) the institutional responsiveness of regional and national decision makers to local interests and knowledge. It provides IGERT students with opportunities for international comparative analyses of social-ecological systems that are culturally and politically distinct, but have evolved in similar biophysical environments and use a similar focal resource (reindeer/caribou). (Kofinas, Griffith, Berman (UAA): NSF and Environment Canada funding)
IPY: Impacts of High-Latitude Climate Change on Ecosystem Services and Society explores the societal consequences of recent and projected changes in ecosystem services, the benefits that society derives from ecosystems. The research goals are to (1) document the current status and trends in ecosystem services in the Arctic and Boreal Forest, (2) project future trends in these services; and (3) assess the societal consequences of altered ecosystem services. Subsistence-based communities in northern and Interior Alaska are integrally involved in the design, implementation, and use of research to ensure that the research directly meets stakeholder needs. The project collaborates with similar research programs in other arctic nations to provide a pan-arctic synthesis of status and trends in ecosystem services. The research directly addresses a critical missing link in most global-change research—quantitative assessment of the causes, consequences, and likely future trajectories of those ecosystem services that are of greatest concern to society by providing spatially explicit time series of maps of ecosystem services and their likely future trends. (Chapin, Rupp, Kofinas, Hepa; NSF funding)
Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy is the only NOAA Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (“RISA”) Center in Alaska. This center is examining the impacts of climate change on the health, lives, and livelihoods of Alaskan (including the business sector), with the goal of contributing to decision-making at the national, state, and local levels. Coastal and interior Alaska regions serve as the focus of interdisciplinary research, with active participation by stakeholders. This research center provides an opportunity for IGERT students to develop the practical policy consequences of their social-ecological research. (White, Gerlach, Walsh: NOAA funding.)
The Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) addresses individual and community resilience with respect to health issues in rural Alaska, with a focus on dietary issues, cultural traditions, and community well-being of indigenous peoples. The center is developed in partnership with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, and its research links pan-arctic indigenous health problems (e.g., diabetes, obesity) with regional institutions, and local causes and consequences. (Mohatt, Drew, Boyer, others; NIH funding).
The Human-Fire Interactions Project studies the role of wildfire on the Boreal System and its human residents, particularly as affected by human activities. The research focuses on three feedback loops: (1) fire-climate-vegetation interactions that affect the global climate system; (2) fire-ecosystem-community interactions that influence indigenous communities through human ignitions, fire impacts on subsistence, and fire-fighting wages; and (3) fire policy-community interactions by which public opinion and national policy interact to influence suppression actions near communities. This research explicitly addresses cross-scale interactions that influence social-ecological systems. IPY has approved this project for extension to
the pan-arctic scale. (Chapin, McGuire, Rupp, Lovecraft; NSF funding) Humans and Hydrology at High Latitudes creates a pan-Arctic model of human water use and how it will be affected by climate change. The project examines the role of water in the lives and livelihoods of Alaska Native Villages on the Seward Peninsula, developing agent-based models to predict the impact of climate change on water resources and the communities that rely on them. (White, Schweitzer; NSF funding)
The Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, which focuses on the long- and short-term resilience of Alaska’s boreal forest in response to climate change. This LTER has recently added a new research thrust on human dimensions and ecosystem services that range from global-scale climate feedbacks to local-scale provisioning of subsistence resources (Chapin, Ruess, Kielland, Kofinas, Rupp; NSF funding).