New Guide Looks At Climate Change At National Parks In Alaska

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A new guide that describes climate change in Alaska’s national parks seeks to engage both state residents and the parks’ two million annual visitors.

State of Change is the fruit of a three-year collaboration between University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers and the National Park Service. The 24-page booklet presents a set of complex and interwoven facts about climate change, along with stories told from the perspectives of individuals such as road engineers, scientists and subsistence hunters.

The guide covers a wide range of topics, such as the effects of thawing on archaeological treasures and on the erosion of land under coastal communities. It reports on actions that individuals and parks are taking to learn, adapt and make a difference.

“Understanding the many ways in which climate change may affect Alaska is not just important, it’s crucial,” said Nancy Fresco, a project leader and a researcher at the UAF International Arctic Research Center’s Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning program. “Viewing those changes in the context of our treasured parks pulls all Americans into the conversation.”

John Morris, another project leader who works for the NPS in Anchorage, agreed.

“In developing this visitor guide, we’re providing our rangers with a much-needed tool for raising awareness about this critical issue. It’s likely to be a topic of conversation in the parks for many years to come,” he said.

NPS and SNAP also released, in digital format, five detailed reports from planning workshops that explored climate change scenarios. The workshops were held in each of Alaska’s regional park networks. They brought together diverse groups of people to discuss plausible park futures as the climate changes. Adaptation, communication, education and flexible management were core needs identified in the workshops.

SNAP is a research group within IARC at UAF. It works with partners and collaborators, using the best available scientific and local knowledge, datasets and models to explore and explain possible futures in the face of changing climate.