A warming Arctic is contributing to increased coastal hazards resulting in significant changes to coastal ecosystems, infrastructure, and human subsistence lifestyles. Identifying and mapping historical trends in environmental change and areas of contemporary rapid change is critical to effectively planning for and mitigating their occurrence and social and economic impacts. We are analyzing historical shoreline and land use change trends based on the integration of existing and new geospatial data. Community-based erosion monitoring sites are also being established and maintained building relationships with local stakeholders and developing co-produced data products.
The impact of environmental change on traditional subsistence activities in the Arctic is complex and understudied. Ecosystem changes affect the abundance of traditional foods, and the access to, harvesting, processing, and storage of these foods. Warmer weather, thinner and more unpredictable sea ice, increased frequency of wildfires, and other changes impact the availability, timing, and safety of harvesting traditional foods. Changes in the abundance and variability of subsistence resources alters the likelihood of a successful harvest, and influences the relative costs and benefits of traditional vis-a?-vis store-bought foods. In this research pillar, we explore how Arctic environmental change alters household opportunities and decisions which more broadly affects Arctic communities. Related social changes impact nutrition and food security by modifying the availability, accessibility, convenience, desirability, and sharing of traditional and store-bought foods.
People move for both push and pull factors such as jobs, education, family, and lifestyle opportunities. We anticipate that changing weather patterns, warming temperatures, and seasonal changes produced by climate change increasingly influence migration. POLARIS studies whether and how climate change affects migration decisions and behavior in Alaska. We want to know if individuals, families, and even whole communities are impacted by changing weather, melting sea ice and permafrost in ways that influence decisions to move.
We use a transdisciplinary approach to integrate our three research pillars to capture the relationships within and between social and natural systems and built environments. To that end, POLARIS aims to develop a compelling theoretical framework that links complex dynamics among environmental changes, ecological and infrastructure disruptions, food security and nutrition, and migration.