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Purpose of the Workshop

Climate Change and Flooding: Challenges to Alaska Native Communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the global average, resulting in ecological, sociological, economic, and political changes. All of this threatens the livelihoods and cultures of Alaska Native communities through increases in flooding, landslides, and extreme weather.

Many villages located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have been directly affected by flooding and severe river erosion, with projections of two to five feet of shoreline loss each year. Communities have begun developing community hazard and adaptation plans, yet accurate models are still needed to predict flooding and erosion risk.

Our Plan for Community Based-Research

Too often erosion mitigation strategies do not incorporate local cultures or community priorities. We recognize the urgent need to identify solutions that combine the knowledge of local, Native communities with engineering and scientific solutions. In concert with members of the community, we plan to:

  • Develop models to forecast river streambank erosion based on unique Arctic river dynamics;
  • Collect data that will help identify and understand the most urgent issues relating to river streambed erosion and flooding
  • Collect and integrate accounts on the long-term development of these phenomena by local observers
  • Develop a community-based adaptation plan that can be used to adapt civil infrastructure and build the local capacity of communities to future river flooding and erosion
  • Create, with the invaluable aid of local knowledge, infrastructure hazard maps identifying locations of potential river flooding and streambank erosion.

The Role and Structure of Community Workshops

A critical element of this process of cooperative, community-based research will be the community workshop held in Bethel.  All residents from Bethel and the surrounding community present in the meeting will be able to provide their input and learn about flooding and erosion monitoring techniques. During the meeting, researchers and community members can discuss the results from the needs assessment regarding the river flooding and erosion risks, along with preliminary approaches to addressing these issues and assuring knowledge co-production.

To Register for the Community Workshop on Sunday (10 AM to 4 PM), August 21, 2022, click here. All participants must be from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and at least 18 years of age. There is potential for some travel reimbursement and attendees will be entered into a drawing to receive 40 gallons of fuel.

Iowa State University, National Science Foundation, University of Washington