Pacific Islands and Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Centers Join Forces

Thousands of miles from the tropical watersheds of the Pacific Islands, the temperate rainforests of the southern panhandle of Alaska face strikingly similar challenges in a changing climate. Both regions feature steep watersheds with dramatic environmental gradients and face significant alterations in watershed ecosystems and environmental processes due to climate change.

As these watershed ecosystems undergo climate-related changes, two Climate Adaptation Science Centers in Alaska (AK CASC) and the Pacific Islands (PI-CCAC), have joined forces to tackle similar local challenges in a unique collaboration within the CCAC network. PI-CCAC is hosted at University of Hawaii in Manoaand includes consortium members uh Hello and the University of Guam; AK CASC is housed at the University of Alaska (AU) Fairbanks with consortium members AU Wetting and AU South East.

hawaiian landscape

The new one CCACs are regional partnerships between university consortia and the US Geological Survey.

Pacific Islands-Alaska (PI-AK) takes a holistic ecosystem view, recognizing the natural connections between terrestrial watersheds, coastal landscapes and adjacent marine environments, studying ecosystems from “ridge to reef” in the Pacific islands and from “ice field to ‘ocean’ in Alaska. The collaborative’s funded projects aim to explore the impacts on important cultural and ecosystem services provided by these linked terrestrial and coastal marine systems.

“The PI-AK the collaboration has been excellent and continues to be very promising,” said the PI-CCAC Federal Director, Mari-Vaughn Johnson. “This partnership underscores that while the Pacific Islands and Alaska are thousands of miles apart, we are actually joined by the ocean, rather than separated by it. Projections suggest that Alaska and the Pacific Islands Pacific will both face dramatic ecosystem changes from land to coast, many of which will impact human relationships with natural and cultural resources.

Traditional knowledge and science

alaska landscape

In addition to the physical similarities shared by these coastal mountain regions, Alaska and the Pacific Islands are bound by similar barriers to adaptation, such as sparse monitoring networks, challenging study environments, and inconsistent efforts to incorporate local cultural insights and knowledge into the research process. . To address these limitations and better understand how these watersheds function and respond to climate and other stressors, emphasis is being placed on collaborative research efforts that combine traditional knowledge and science to empower management decisions. local adaptation.

PI-AK reinforces that our regions share many of the same needs and opportunities for developing the capacity of scientists, managers and students through the co-production of actionable science. We both address critical resource management needs through university and federal research enterprises, integrating local knowledge throughout the process,” said Bradley Romine, PI-CCAC Deputy Director of the University Consortium and uh Mānoa extension specialist.

PI-AK funded projects were highlighted in a special session at the 2022 Ocean Science Meeting. Research conducted jointly by Alaska and the Pacific Islands CCAC scientists examine the impact of changing streamflow patterns on salmon and coastal nutrients, future extremes of precipitation, and how changes in ecosystem processes such as flooding and streamflow will affect species and local communities, everything described on a new PI-AK website.

“We hope this new website will serve as a living resource for documenting projects, relationships, and solution-based science to support communities in Alaska and the Pacific Islands,” Johnson said.

This collaboration is an example of uh Mānoa’s goal of Research Excellence: Advancing the Enterprise of Research and Creative Work (PDF) and Building a Sustainable and Resilient Campus Environment: Part of the Global Movement for Sustainability and Climate Resilience (PDF), two of the four objectives identified in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (PDF), updated December 2020.

Learn more about the projects and check out the opportunities to participate in the collaboration at PI-AK website.

–By Rachel Lentz

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