Film reveals Arctic change through Indigenous, scientific knowledge

Five years ago, facing momentous changes in coastal sea ice, Iñupiaq residents of Kotzebue, Alaska, began a collaborative research project with scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Columbia University. Their goal was to better understand these changes. 

The project, called Ice Bridges, or Ikaaġvik Sikukun in the Iñupiaq language, melded Indigenous observations, aerial monitoring, and ocean and marine mammal science. The first peer-reviewed studies are emerging, along with the film “Ice Edge,” which chronicles the years-long study and the relationships it forged.

Filming of IceEdge in Kotzebue, Alaska.
Photo by Bjorn Olson
The filming of “Ice Edge,” a film documenting the Ikaaġvik Sikukun research project near Kotzebue, Alaska.

An “Ice Edge” launch party will be held on Facebook and YouTube on Jan. 27 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  Award-winning environmental journalist Andy Revkin will host the event, which will include discussion by Indigenous and scientific team members. Members of the public can view the film before the event on YouTube.  

The launch will celebrate the film, discuss the research and explore lessons that can inform efforts around the world to bridge local and Western science expertise and perspectives when tackling urgent challenges where the impacts of climate change are greatest.

Guests will include the documentary filmmaker Sarah Betcher, of Farthest North Films, and the following research team members:

  • Elder Advisory Council members Ross Schaeffer, Bobby Schaeffer and Cyrus Harris, depending on internet connectivity and the pandemic 
  • Alex Whiting, director of the Native Village of Kotzebue’s Environmental Program 
  • Donna Hauser, marine mammal scientist, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • Christopher Zappa, oceanographer, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University Climate School

Andy Mahoney, a sea ice scientist from the UAF Geophysical Institute, was also involved in the research and featured in the film. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded the research and film with a grant aimed at bringing new depth to the concept of coproduction of knowledge. 

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Andy Revkin, Columbia University Climate School, 

NOTE TO EDITORS: Members of the press are encouraged to register so they may participate in a journalist roundtable during the last 30 minutes of the event.