Human Dimensions of the Arctic System (HARC) | Science
The HARC Prospectus (5.6 K PDF download) People and the Arctic: A Prospectus for Research on the Human Dimensions of the Arctic System, was published in 1997. It outlines the rationale behind the HARC initiative within the ARCSS program and describes important questions (2.4 K PDF download) for the future of research about human dimensions of the arctic system.
Below are abstracts from four of the research projects currently funded under the HARC initiative.
Significant change has occurred in reindeer herding in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska, due to the migration of large numbers of the Western Arctic Herd caribou onto the Peninsula in winter. This research would study the environmental and socio-economic conditions of this change. The work would identify climate factors that influence herding practices and would evaluate the role of reindeer herding in the subsistence economy. The research will examine the ecological impacts of caribou grazing on ecosystem sustainability. Finally, it would model the socio-economic consequences of losses via migration out of the region and via range deterioration as well as changes in herd management in order to design strategies for herd management that would mitigate these impacts. The work would involve local and educational communities.
Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Climate
Variability on the Alaskan North Slope Coastal Region
Amanda H. Lynch, Ronald D. Brunner, Judith A. Curry, Anne Jensen, James A. Maslanik,
Linda O. Mearns, Glenn Sheehan, James Syvitski
The focus of this project is to understand, support and enhance the local
decision-making process on the North Slope of Alaska in the face of climate
variability on seasonal to decadal timescales, both natural and anthropogenically
induced. The primary goal is to help stakeholders clarify and secure their
common interest by exchanging information and knowledge concerning climate
and environmental variability. To achieve this goal, we will apply an
improved understanding and predictive capability of regional climate variability
and change to generate a range of scenarios for changing sea ice variability,
extreme weather events, storm surges, flooding and coastal erosion, and
other environmental factors. These scenarios can be used to predict the
probability of states that affect coastal communities, surveys and management
of marine mammals, transportation and offshore resource development.
We are engaged in an intensive synthesis effort to understand coastal sea ice in the Western Arctic (northern Bering Sea to Amundsen Gulf in the central Canadian Arctic). Our project grew out of having to cope with the problem that different types of sea ice observers have increasingly been prevented from communicating and working together by the very nature of their separate technological specializations. Accordingly, our project brings those specialists together again, to co-analyze case studies of events selected for pertinence to coastal residents of the Western Arctic-northern Bering Sea. Five anomalous events and conditions from the second half of the 20th century are to be chronicled and illustrated. The five case studies (already chosensee below) emphasize human consequences of sea ice conditions considered noteworthy, deviant from normal, and disruptive to traditional subsistence pursuits. Climate changes now being experienced in the Western Arctic are regarded as portents of increasingly frequent disruptions in sea ice dynamics. Case studies have been selected for which the development of greater predictive understanding through retrospective synthesis promises to improve the public safety of arctic coastal residents who use sea ice as a platform for subsistence.
We co-investigators are four long-term residents of the Arctic. Our scientific team includes eight additional investigators whose extensive interdisciplinary interests and experience in fields related to arctic sea ice enrich our project: Karen N. Brewster (oral historian), John J. Burns (marine mammals specialist), Henry Huntington (subsistence specialist), Pat Patterson (NSB Search and Rescue), Peter Schweitzer (anthropologist), Ted Fathauer (NWS Weather Forecaster), Russ Page (NWS Ice Forecaster), and Karim-Aly Kassam (economist, and arctic human ecologist).
Residents of St. Lawrence Island, Little Diomede, Wainwright, Barrow, and Holman, NWT have operated in equal partnership with the scientific team (as befits their primary stakeholders roles in understanding and predicting unusual sea ice conditions). Representatives of some of those communities will participate in the exercise described below (see attachment, HARC-BSSI Participants).
Synthesis of our understanding also requires criticism by external experts. To the investigative team, we have added a carefully chosen panel of external participants: Peter Gadd (sea ice specialist for the petroleum industrys Northstar Project); Owen Mason (anthropologist); Lew Shapiro (innovative ice investigator, Barrow); Jim Maslanik (sea-ice analyst for global change indicators); Hajo Eicken (sea ice specialist on breakup); Jack Kruse/ Steve Braund (companion NSF-project specialists in Traditional Ecological KnowledgeTEKmethodological studies); Roger de Abreu, (Canadian Ice Service); An artist, to be named, to illustrate stories by ground-level observers.
To round out our participants, Barrows Community Researchers have asked us specifically to invite: a representative from Sen. Ted Stevens Office, who can participate with sleeves rolled up, to report back to the Senator the results of our unique exercise in synthesis. This person may be a specialist in communications (a tough nut to crack for rural Alaska), international relations (we depend heavily on Canadians cooperation), or some other relevant specialty.
The projects primary instrument will be the Barrow Symposium on
Sea Ice (BSSI) scheduled for 31st October through 2nd November 2000 at
the Iñupiat Heritage Center in Barrow. Participants in the project
have prepared ahead of time so that genuine synthesis can take place at
the symposium itself. Technical support (including acquisition of satellite
imagery, mapping and translation services) has been arranged. This support
will facilitate the communication and recording of insights as they develop
between scales of distance and time familiar to surface observers (e.g.,
Barrow spring whaling captains and crews) on one hand, and those familiar
with remote sensing data (e.g. National Weather Service Forecast Offices)
Products from the Barrow Symposium on Sea Ice will feature an illustrated synthesis volume, to be published and distributed at the end of the project-year. Its central five chapters are to be the case studies co-authored by teams made up of both traditional experienced ground observers and remote-sensing analysts. Other chapters in the volume will critically evaluate the effectiveness of our approaches to bridging the gaps between traditional knowledge and technologies of remote-sensing and data acquisition.
- Spring Chukchi Sea landfast ice calving events (CG93/97)
- Spring 1980 Bering Strait sea ice blockage of marine mammal movements,
contrasted with open
Bering Strait conditions in 1994 (JB80/94)
- Summer, Chukchi-Beaufort, persistent heavy sea ice, 1975, contrasted
with fall, late re-formation
of ice in major ice retreat years, typified by 1998 (KK75/98)
- Spring Chukchi Sea Ivu (ice-shove, ice override), May 1957 (KB57)
- Spring 2000 Whaling Season Project Report (RP2000)
Kola Peninsula Project
The Kola Peninsula is one of the most populated and polluted regions in the Arctic. The AAAS Program on Europe and Central Asia, the Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Maryland, and the Kola Science Center in Apatity, Russia are proposing to conduct a multi-year US-Russian research effort to increase understanding of the role of human dynamics on ecosystem functions and explore development strategies to enhance ecosystem health, ecological sustainability and economic diversity. The project will focus on the Imandra Lake watershed, initially, and then examine the Kola and Tuloma River watersheds. All of these watersheds cut through the heart of the industrially developed ecosystems of the Kola Peninsula and account for the release of major pollutants into the Barents and White Seas and the Arctic Ocean.
This research effort will utilize participatory modelling exercises and other collaborative projects in the Kola Peninsula to meet its goals.
"HARC research considers human activity, both
within and outside the Arctic, as a link and vital driver among the terrestrial,
marine, and climatic subsystems. Accordingly, the initiative provides
a significant opportunity to integrate ecosystem and climate studies with
a broad range of the social sciences."
-- People and the Arctic: A Prospectus for Research on the Human Dimensions of the Arctic System.