finding 22.5 : climate-change-affects-alaska-native

The cumulative effects of climate change in Alaska strongly affect Native communities, which are highly vulnerable to these rapid changes but have a deep cultural history of adapting to change.



This finding is from chapter 22 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: A central component of the assessment process was the Alaska Regional Climate assessment workshop that was held September 12-15, 2012, in Anchorage with approximately 20 attendees; it began the process leading to a foundational Technical Input Report (TIR).6e174e7d-28f7-4ce4-9141-c378d82b4f53 The report consists of 148 pages of text, 45 figures, 8 tables, and 27 pages of references. Public and private citizens or institutions were consulted and engaged in its preparation and expert review by the various agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) represented by the 11-member TIR writing team. The key findings of the report were presented at the Alaska Forum on the Environment and in a regularly scheduled, monthly webinar by the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, with feedback then incorporated into the report. The chapter author team engaged in multiple technical discussions via regular teleconferences. These included careful expert review of the foundational TIR6e174e7d-28f7-4ce4-9141-c378d82b4f53 and of approximately 85 additional technical inputs provided by the public, as well as the other published literature and professional judgment. These discussions were followed by expert deliberation of draft key messages by the writing team in a face-to-face meeting before each key message was selected for inclusion in the Report. These discussions were supported by targeted consultation with additional experts by the lead author of each message, and they were based on criteria that help define “key vulnerabilities” (Ch. 26: Decision Support).

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting chapter text summarize extensive evidence documented in the Alaska Technical Input Report.6e174e7d-28f7-4ce4-9141-c378d82b4f53 Technical input reports (85) on a wide range of topics were also received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. Evidence exists in recorded local observational accounts as well as in the peer-reviewed scientific literature of the cumulative effects of climate-related environmental change on Native communities in Alaska; these effects combine with other socioeconomic stressors to strain rural Native communities (Ch. 12: Indigenous Peoples).0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268 c26ea745-0499-488b-abdd-5599688deaaf 2e959d54-a5b5-49e2-8b87-eb5d6afb0e5a c79a2225-9c80-4a6a-932e-73d4f8c499e4 Increasing attention to impacts of climate change is revealing new aspects, such as impacts to health and hunter safety (for example, Baffrey and Huntington 2010; Brubaker et al. 201193caee88-a37f-47dc-9b76-4351c6f122f5 a09df4b5-c276-4f3f-a251-c6dfd75cefe7). There is also strong evidence for the cultural adaptive capacity of these communities and peoples over time.6d7cc16a-7168-46d1-b22b-75244d6bc079 6ca055db-9671-4dbc-9d65-aa72ac9e9510 d46dee37-df23-4446-98de-f00d606317b6 c19771cd-e002-4973-ad8f-8ead63eb1d83 588b8649-ccfe-4107-b615-477cf05db8d7

New information and remaining uncertainties: Important new evidence confirmed many of the findings from a prior Alaska assessment (http://nca2009.globalchange.gov/alaska), which informed the 2009 NCA.e251f590-177e-4ba6-8ed1-6f68b5e54c8a The precise mechanisms by which climate change affects Native communities are poorly understood, especially in the context of rapid social, economic, and cultural change. Present day responses to environmental change are poorly documented. More research is needed on the ways that Alaska Natives respond to current biophysical climate change and to the factors that enable or constrain contemporary adaptation. Alaska Native communities are already being affected by climate-induced changes in the physical and biological environment, from coastal erosion threatening the existence of some communities, to alterations in hunting, fishing, and gathering practices that undermine the intergenerational transfer of culture, skill, and wisdom. At the same time, these communities have a long record of adaptation and flexibility. Whether such adaptability is sufficient to address the challenges of climate change depends both on the speed of climate-induced changes and on the degree to which Native communities are supported rather than constrained in the adaptive measures they need to make.0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: There is high confidence that cumulative effects of climate change in Alaska strongly affect Native communities, which are highly vulnerable to these rapid changes but have a deep cultural history of adapting to change

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