Oct 30 2014

Conference examines climate pressures on Alaska’s resources

Melting glaciers, shifting wildlife populations and warming stream temperatures are just a few of the critical natural resources that will be discussed at the Climate, Conservation, and Community in Alaska and Northwest Canada conference being held Nov. 4-5 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska.

Nearly 150 scientists, natural resource managers and decision-makers from Alaska and Northwest Canada will meet to discuss how our most critical resources can be studied and managed during rapid change. “This conference is about how we do science in the climate change world,” said Jeremy Littell, conference organizer and lead scientist for the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center. “It isn't just about the science — it’s about how the whole community has to work harder and faster — together — to get answers and apply them to making better decisions.”

This kind of coordination has rarely occurred on such a large scale, but for the past three years the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center — a partnership between the Department of the Interior and the University of Alaska Fairbanks — has been trying to facilitate engagement between state and federal agencies and university researchers. This conference is an opportunity to reflect.

“The Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center is an experiment in how we both identify and respond to the challenges of climate change,” Littell said. "We're asking ourselves as a community how that experiment is going, and challenging ourselves to be more effective.”

To that end, the conference includes innovative sessions to describe partnerships that are working well, promote further dialogue, identify places for synergy and prepare the next generation of scientists to work in this manner.

“These days, we think it's better if science doesn't happen in a vacuum," Littell said. “We need decision-makers and managers involved in asking the important questions, and we need scientists to work in a way that responds to the needs of decision-makers.”

Conference highlights include:

  • Opening presentations from the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys on best practices in bridging research and decision-making.
  • A speed-networking session where researchers, especially early career researchers, can learn about opportunities to help solve real management problems and fill research needs across Alaska.
  • Over 30 presentations from subject-area experts about research and projects occurring around Alaska and Northwest Canada.

The full conference agenda and further information is available online: https://csc.alaska.edu/events/climate-conservation-and-community/agenda.