The Arctic is undergoing rapid socio-environmental change that has led to shifting distributions of walrus hunting locations in the Bering Sea. There is increasing interest among Bering Strait hunters in understanding sea ice, reducing risks, using Indigenous knowledge and western science in decision support, and supporting knowledge sharing across communities. There is also a desire to validate the accuracy of National Weather Service (NWS) models using local observations. The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) was designed in 2010 to serve as a web-based resource for Alaska Native communities and other stakeholders interested in sea ice and walruses in northwest Alaska and support National Weather Service sea ice forecasts via feedback from community observers. Weekly SIWO reports are provided April-June and include information on sea ice conditions, weather, and marine mammal observations. Although there appears to be a high level of interest in SIWO, there remains a limited understanding of who uses SIWO, barriers to information access and use, the extent that SIWO observations have supported NWS operations, and how it may be improved to further support community resilience. The objectives of this project are to evaluate the SIWO to identify how to increase its usability and impact and optimize the SIWO based on a set of stakeholder-generated recommendations.

Project diagram