Human Dimensions Lab



Funding for WERC-HD and its projects has been generously provided by: the National Science Foundation Arctic SEES (Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability) program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Institute of Northern Engineering at UAF.

Current Projects

Sustainable Futures North

Team Members: Loring, Gerlach, Norlin, Penn Description: This project is concerned primarily with developing a more sophisticated understanding of the interactions among environmental security  and natural resource development in the North American Arctic and Subarctic regions. With principle study sites in Bristol Bay, Alaska, Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, and Baffin Island, Nunavut, SFN combines integrated assessments of community needs and challenges, ethnographic filmmaking, large-scale data synthesis, engineered systems analysis, and an education and outreach program intended to enhance community capacity for responding to change.

Regional Assessments of Health Vulnerability and Environmental Security (RAVENS) Phase I: Water Security in Bristol Bay

Team Members: Loring, Schnabel, Gerlach, Penn Description: RAVENS explores the spatially-explicit aspects of climate change related health vulnerabilities, through an integrated assessment of water security assets in the coastal communities of the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. These include: water, wastewater, and solid waste infrastructure; human resources; grants and operating budgets; and community disaster mitigation and/or climate change adaptation plans. 2) Existing down-scaled projections of IPCC scenarios for precipitation, permafrost, and storminess will be drawn upon to create detailed regional and local impact scenarios. 3) The data sets and knowledge captured in activities 1 and 2 will guide the development of a GIS-based decision support framework. Future phases of RAVENS will transition the approach for use in other regions of Alaska and the United States, and for other sectors of environmental security including food and energy.

Completed Projects

Food Security in the Kenai Peninsula

Team Members: Loring, Gerlach, Harrison Description: This project engages in a combination of surveys, in-depth interviews, and community workshops, to examine the role of local seafood in the food security of Kenai Peninsula (KP) communities. This work is in partnership with local community organizations including Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (KBRR) and the Southern Kenai Peninsula Communities Project. We identified the need for this research during a food security workshop held in Homer in 2011 by KBRR’s Coastal Training Program. The outcomes of this work will contribute toward more effective community planning for a more resilient region, and will offer insights for addressing food insecurity challenges across the state. The details regarding why consumers can or cannot procure local seafoods, and why local fishers can or cannot make a living providing fish to local markets, will be invaluable to a collaborative process of identifying solutions for improving the local food system.

  • Water and Environmental Research Center (WERC)
  • 437 Duckering
  • 1760 Tanana Loop
  • PO Box 75 5860
  • Fairbanks, AK 99775-5860, USA