• Environmental change on Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: bellwether of the future Arctic, or black sheep?
    • Gerald (J.J.) Frost (Senior Scientist, ABR, Inc.)
    • April 20, 2018
  • Image above: The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
    Photo Credit: J.J. Frost.

Abstract

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the most biologically productive areas of the tundra biome and supports one of the largest indigenous human populations in the circumpolar Arctic. However, the YKD’s relatively warm climate regime, proximity to the coast, and low-lying topography make the region highly vulnerable to rapid and persistent change following shifts about basic physical (sea-level) and thermal (freezing point) thresholds. Satellite- and field-based observations on land and adjacent waters of the Bering Sea indicate that the YKD has already undergone widespread environmental change in recent decades. Satellite-observed trends of vegetation productivity since the early 1980s are idiosyncratic relative to circumpolar trends, indicating strong declines that contrast with widespread “greening” observed elsewhere in the Low Arctic. In this talk I will present results from a series of studies that integrate remote-sensing and fieldwork to understand the drivers and impacts of ecological change in response to episodic disturbance events and longer-term climate change. I hope to spur a discussion of whether current dynamics on the YKD foretell changes likely to be seen in the future Arctic, or are unique to this corner of Beringia.

Please note that this week's seminar takes places at the UAF Pub, not ELIF!


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Meeting ID: 430-388-606


 

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