The Impacts of a Changing Climate on Humans and their Freshwater Resources in the Arctic
Daniel White, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lilian Alessa, University of Alaska Anchorage
Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Peter Schweitzer, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Andrew Kliskey, University of Alaska Anchorage
Erin Strang, University of Alaska Fairbanks
The overall objective of our research is to understand how humans rely on freshwater at local and regional scales in the Arctic, how these dependencies have changed in the recent past, and how they are likely to change in the future. The freshwater used by arctic residents for drinking, cooking, and washing is derived in many cases from lakes and streams. Since these water bodies are frozen 6-9 months of the year, communities must treat and store large volumes of water for use during winter. Unfortunately, when not enough water can be gathered in the summer or stored in the winter, the entire community may be without fresh water. During these months, water must be collected by the individuals from ice, snow, and rain. Collecting water during breakup can be dangerous as river ice is rotten or there is too little snow for tundra travel. While the State and Federal programs are making progress towards developing sustainable water sources for Alaska’s arctic communities, freshwater remains a precious commodity. This presentation will describe the human dependencies on freshwater in the Arctic. In particular, we will discuss the effects of inadequate quantity and quality of freshwater on arctic inhabitants.