• Chapter 6: Vegetation

      Berman, Matthew; DeVelice, Robert; Hollingsworth, Teresa Nettleton; Bella, Elizabeth; Carlson, Matthew L.; Clark, Paul; Barrett, Tara; Hayward, Gregory D.; Lundquist, John; Magness, Dawn Robin; et al. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2016)
      This assessment evaluates the effects of future climate change on a select set of ecological systems and ecosystem services in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and Chugach National Forest regions. The focus of the assessment was established during a multi-agency/organization workshop that established the goal to conduct a rigorous evaluation of a limited range of topics rather than produce a broad overview. The report explores the potential consequences of climate change for: (a) snowpack, glaciers, and winter recreation; (b) coastal landscapes and associated environments, (c) vegetation, (d) salmon, and (e) a select set of wildlife species. During the next half century, directional change associated with warming temperatures and increased precipitation will result in dramatic reductions in snow cover at low elevations, continued retreat of glaciers, substantial changes in the hydrologic regime for an estimated 8.5 percent of watersheds, and potentially an increase in the abundance of pink salmon. In contrast to some portions of the Earth, apparent sealevel rise is likely to be low for much of the assessment region owing to interactions between tectonic processes and sea conditions. Shrubs and forests are projected to continue moving to higher elevations, reducing the extent of alpine tundra and potentially further affecting snow levels. Opportunities for alternative forms of outdoor recreation and subsistence activities that include sled-dog mushing, hiking, hunting, and travel using across-snow vehicles will change as snowpack levels, frozen soils, and vegetation change over time. There was a projected 66-percent increase in the estimated value of human structures (e.g. homes, businesses) that are at risk to fire in the next half century on the Kenai Peninsula, and a potential expansion of invasive plants, particularly along roads, trails, and waterways.
    • Measuring Community Adaptive and Transformative Capacity in the Arctic Context

      Berman, Matthew; Kofinas, Gary; BurnSilver, Shauna (Springer International Publishing Inc., 2016-12-01)
      Adaptive capacity (AC) plays a prominent role in reducing community vulnerability, an essential goal for achieving sustainability. The related concept, transformative capacity (TC), describes a set of tools from the resilience paradigm for making more fundamental system changes. While the literature appears to agree generally on the meaning of AC and TC, operational definitions vary widely in empirical applications. We address measurement of AC and TC in empirical studies of community vulnerability and resilience, with special attention to the problems of arctic communities. We discuss how some challenges follow from ambiguities in the broader vulnerability model within which AC is embedded. Other issues are more technical, such as a confounding of stocks (capacity) with flows (time-specific inputs or outcomes). We view AC and TC as forms of capital, as distinct from flows (i.e., ecosystem services, well-being), and propose a set of sequential steps for measuring the contribution of AC and TC assets to reducing vulnerability. We demonstrate the conceptual application in a comparative analysis of AC in two arctic Alaska communities responding to an increase in the price of fuel. The comparative case study illustrates some key empirical challenges in measuring AC for small arctic communities.