Changing Times, Changing Stories: Climate Change Perspectives Vary Notably Among Generations in Subarctic Alaska
September 20, 2016
Scientists conducted interviews in four rural indigenous communities in subarctic Alaska. The findings appear in the recent online edition of the journal Ecology and Society.
Sunrise on the Andreafsky River in St. Mary's, Alaska
Observations common among generations included warmer winter temperature, decrease in snow, and increase in rain, later freeze up and a general shift in expected seasonal time frames. Distinct generational perceptions of environmental change included a perception by participants of the younger generation that weather is always variable while older participants viewed the observed changes as outside of normal weather variability.
The village of Kotlik at sunset - September 20, 2016
Observations are defined as the specific examples of environmental and weather changes described, whereas perception refers to the manner in which these observations of change were understood and contextualized by the interview participants. Understanding the difference in generational observations and perceptions of change are key issues in the development of climate change adaptation strategies.
The villages of the study area, St. Mary’s, Pilot Station, Kotlik, and Chevak, are located in the Lower Yukon River Basin and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. St. Mary’s and Pilot Station are riverine communities located along the Yukon River; Kotlik and Chevak are located along tributaries of the Yukon River in coastal areas.
St. Mary’s, Pilot Station, and Kotlik are Yup’ik communities, whereas Chevak is a Cup’ik community whose residents speak the Cup’ik dialect of the central Yup’ik language and identify as a distinct population.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the populations of St. Mary’s, Pilot Station, Kotlik, and Chevak are 507, 568, 577, and 938, respectively (U.S. Census Bureau 2010a).
Map of Study Area
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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