Improving the ability of Alaskans to respond to a changing climate
Climate change is being felt acutely in Alaska and the Arctic. It is already altering seasons, landscapes and life in the North. These changes are impacting the safety and wellbeing of Alaska’s people, wildlife, and landscapes.
ACCAP, one of 11 NOAA funded Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) programs, was established in 2006. We conduct interdisciplinary and regionally relevant research to inform resource management, planning and public policy, and to build Alaskans' capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate change.
We work at the boundary between university research and decision makers. We strive to make complex climate science usable and applicable in a decision context and to facilitate the science being informed and driven by stakeholder needs and questions. We build downscaling models as well as develop, test, and evaluate research products and tools.
Collaborators and focus areas
We work with people whose decision-making is influenced by climate-related events:
- Scientists and engineers
- State and local planners, policy-makers and governments
- Transportation, natural resource, and land management agencies
- Native non-profit organizations and Alaska Native tribes
- Non-governmental organizations
ACCAP works with stakeholders to craft realistic adaptation strategies.
As temperatures statewide rise—and as oceans, landscapes, and ecosystems continue to change in the coming decades—people will need tools and information to help them respond and adapt.
Right: Beach reinforcement at Shaktoolik, AK. (Alaska Sea Grant)
Arctic Climate and Ice
ACCAP works to create tools and adaptation strategies that help stakeholders respond to changes in sea ice, glaciers, and permafrost.
Temperatures in the Arctic are warming faster than any other region on Earth. The resulting dramatic losses of ice are amplifying the effects of warming.
Photo: Thawing permafrost is changing the character of Alaska's coasts and inland areas underlain by ice. (USGS)
Coastal and Marine
ACCAP works with coastal residents to assess where they are now, and where to go from here, in terms of marine resources.
Communities that depend on Alaska’s marine areas are facing impacts from warmer ocean temperatures, coastal erosion, ocean acidification, loss of sea ice, and changes in the species makeup in the waters off Alaska.
Photo: Umiaq (whaling boat) near Utqiagvik, AK. (Billy Adams)
Forests and Wildfire
ACCAP works to help communities understand how changing fire patterns may affect landscapes, wildlife, and other resources.
Wildfires are a natural part of boreal forest and tundra ecosystems, but warmer temperatures, longer snow-free seasons, changes in vegetation, and insect outbreaks have led to longer and more active fire seasons in Alaska.
Photo: Wildland firefighters in Alaska's boreal forest. (Scenarios Network for Alaska + Arctic Planning)
Native and Tribal
ACCAP researches and provides decision support for Alaska's vulnerable and underserved communities.
Many Alaskans live in communities of fewer than 1,000 people. Most of these communities are accessible only by boat or aircraft. Dependent on local resources, rural Native communities in Alaska are among those most directly impacted by the changing climate.
Photo: The Alaska Native village of Shishmaref, which is under threat from coastal erosion and loss of protective sea ice. (Wikimedia)
ACCAP works to increase understanding of how changing water patterns may affect hydroelectric power, river ice breakup, and natural resource management.
Precipitation is likely to increase across Alaska in the coming decades. Alaska has some of the largest and fastest-changing glacier systems on earth, and about 80% of its land is in permafrost zones. As the climate gets wetter—and warmer temperatures thaw these massive ice reserves—runoff patterns will change across the landscape.
Photo: Permafrost thaw changes hydrology and creates slumps that can cause trees to fall over or tilt. (National Park Service)
Our history and support
- Established in 2006 with funding from the NOAA Climate Program Office
- One of 10 Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) programs nationwide. RISA team research informs resource management, planning and public policy, and supports the nation’s capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate change.
Interested in working with ACCAP?
Please get in touch via email, or call us at 907-474-7812.
About the photo
After many years of planning, the 440-foot Aleknagik Wood River Bridge reliably connects the two halves of Aleknagik, a village in southwest Alaska that borders the north and south banks of Lake Aleknagik near the Wood River.
In the winter, the frozen lake has long served as the village's main transportation corridor. But the ice can be unpredictable and unstable—a fact that is being exacerbated by warmer winters. Villagers said about 20 people have died trying to cross over in the last 40 years.
Much of rural Alaska lacks basic infrastructure that will be needed as the climate changes.
Source: KDLG News, Dillingham