Recent Submissions

  • Drainage Pierces ANWR in Alaska Study Scenario

    Haley, Sharman; Tussing, Arlon R. (1999)
    A hypothetical scenario of petroleum industry activities adjacent to the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) suggests that development from leases under State of Alaska jurisdiction could drain reservoirs that extend under ANWR. Anticipation of such drainage might in turn trigger Congressional authorization for limited surface development of trans-boundary fields. This article provides an overview of 5 scenarios developed for an interdisciplinary study of community sustainability in the Arctic. Forty year scenarios are not offered as predictions, but as "science fiction" - stories combining the best available scientific information and a set of fictional but plausible assumptions to explore implication of a range of plausible outcomes. The final scenario hinges on assumptions about continuing trends in technology that reduce future development costs and surface impacts.
  • The Chaninik Wind Group

    Schwoerer, Tobias; Meiners, Dennis; Fay, Ginny (UNEP Risø Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development, 2011)
    The Chaninik Wind Group project, a collaboration between Native communities in remote areas of Alaska that harnesses wind power to reduce energy costs, promotes self sufficiency and economic development
  • Ocean Acidification Risk Assessment for Alaska's Fishery Sector

    Cross, Jessica; Evans, Wiley; Hauri, Claudine; Hurst, T.P.; Ekstrom, Julia; Colt, Steve; Lucey, Noelle; Cooley, Sarah; Mathis, Jeremy; Feely, Richard (Elsevier, 2015)
    The highly productive fisheries of Alaska are located in seas projected to experience strong global change, including rapid transitions in temperature and ocean acidification-driven changes in pH and other chemical parameters. Many of the marine organisms that are most intensely affected by ocean acidification(OA) contribute substantially to the state’s commercial fisheries and traditional subsistence way of life. Prior studies of OA’s potential impacts on human communities have focused only on possible direct economic losses from specific scenarios of human dependence on commercial harvests and damages to marine species. However, other economic and social impacts, such as changes in food security or livelihoods, are also likely to result from climate change. This study evaluates patterns of dependence on marine resources within Alaska that could be negatively impacted by OA and current community characteristics to assess the potential risk to the fishery sector from OA. Here, we used a risk assessment framework based on one developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to analyze earth-system global ocean model hindcasts and projections of ocean chemistry, fisheries harvest data, and demographic information. The fisheries examined were: shellfish, salmon and other fin fish. The final index incorporates all of these data to compare overall risk among Alaska’s federally designated census areas. The analysis showed that regions in southeast and southwest Alaska that are highly reliant on fishery harvests and have relatively lower incomes and employment alternatives likely face the highest risk from OA.Although this study is an intermediate step toward our full understanding, the results presented here show that OA merits consideration in policy planning, as it may represent another challenge to Alaskan communities, some of which are already under acute socio-economic strains.
  • Applying the food–energy–water nexus concept at the local scale

    2021-05-13
    The food–energy–water (FEW) nexus describes interactions among domains that yield gains or trade-offs when analysed together rather than independently. In a project about renewable energy in rural Alaska communities, we applied this concept to examine the implications for sustainability and resilience. The FEW nexus provided a useful framework for identifying the cross-domain benefits of renewable energy, including gains in FEW security. However, other factors such as transportation and governance also play a major role in determining FEW security outcomes in rural Alaska. Here, we show the implications of our findings for theory and practice. The precise configurations of and relationships among FEW nexus components vary by place and time, and the range of factors involved further complicates the ability to develop a functional, systematic FEW model. Instead, we suggest how the FEW nexus may be applied conceptually to identify and understand cross-domain interactions that contribute to long-term sustainability and resilience.
  • Emerging Anthropogenic Influences on the Southcentral Alaska Temperature and Precipitation Extremes and Related Fires in 2019

    Berman, Matthew; Schmidt, Jennifer; Bhatt, Uma S.; Lader, Rick T.; Walsh, John E.; Bieniek, Peter A.; Thoman, Richard L.; Borries-Strigle, Cecilia; Bulock, Kristi; Chriest, Jonathan; et al. (MDPI, 2021-01-17)
    The late-season extreme fire activity in Southcentral Alaska during 2019 was highly unusual and consequential. Firefighting operations had to be extended by a month in 2019 due to the extreme conditions of hot summer temperature and prolonged drought. The ongoing fires created poor air quality in the region containing most of Alaska’s population, leading to substantial impacts to public health. Suppression costs totaled over $70 million for Southcentral Alaska. This study’s main goals are to place the 2019 season into historical context, provide an attribution analysis, and assess future changes in wildfire risk in the region. The primary tools are meteorological observations and climate model simulations from the NCAR CESM Large Ensemble (LENS). The 2019 fire season in Southcentral Alaska included the hottest and driest June–August season over the 1979–2019 period. The LENS simulation analysis suggests that the anthropogenic signal of increased fire risk had not yet emerged in 2019 because of the CESM’s internal variability, but that the anthropogenic signal will emerge by the 2040–2080 period. The effect of warming temperatures dominates the effect of enhanced precipitation in the trend towards increased fire risk.
  • Stoking the flame: Subsistence and wood energy in rural Alaska, United States

    Schmidt, Jennifer I.; Byrd, Amanda; Curl, Jennifer; Brinkman, Todd J.; Heeringa, Krista (Elsevier BV, 2021-01)
    Energy costs are large and increasing in rural Alaska communities, so communities are turning to renewable energy. While, many of these communities have a mixed subsistence-cash economy, the relationship between renewable energy and subsistence has not been studied. Tanana, Alaska has a biomass program and we conducted interviews with 61 households in 2017 to understand how residents perceive the program and its association with subsistence activities. We analyzed Alaska Department of Fish & Game subsistence surveys from 89 communities to estimate differences in subsistence harvest between households that harvest wood and those that do not. Interviews indicated that people who harvest wood for the biomass program were six times more likely to engage in subsistence. Subsistence harvests were nearly double (184 kg/per capita) in households that harvested wood for personal use versus those that did not (101 kg/per capita). Equipment used for both activities was similar, and 57% respondents combined wood harvesting with other activities (e.g. subsistence, travel, etc.). Higher household incomes and employment were positively associated with subsistence participation (p < 0.001) while only household incomes was positively associated with wood harvest through the biomass program (p < 0.001). Overall, the program was perceived as having a positive effect (69%) for the community because it has created jobs (36%), saved people money (23%), promoted sharing (16%), and reduced fuel use by the community (15%). Our research shows that biomass programs have the potential to complement subsistence activities and enhance the sustainability of communities in rural Alaska that are faced with high energy costs.
  • Measuring Progress toward Urban Sustainability: Do Global Measures Work for Arctic Cities?

    Berman, Matthew; Orttung, Robert W. (MDPI AG, 2020-05-03)
    The International Organization for Standardization recently responded to a growing global interest in cities by developing an index for measuring urban sustainability (ISO 37120). We address how well this standard applies to Arctic cities, and potential modifications that might improve its performance. After briefly discussing the goals of sustainability indicators, we examine the extent to which Arctic cities’ remote location, cold and changing climate, and thin, largely resource-based economies may create different sustainability challenges. We then critically examine the content of ISO 37120 and the context in which it was created. We place the index within a broader discussion of urban sustainability indicators and examine the extent to which it really addresses sustainability. We then analyze how well the ISO 37120 accounts for the characteristic features of Arctic cities that produce unique sustainability challenges. Our findings show that only half of ISO 37120′s 128 indicators actually measure future-oriented concerns. We suggest that, while the ISO 37120 may be a useful starting point in quantifying Arctic urban sustainability, the index should only be used as a foundation for a more in-depth analysis. To better represent Arctic cities, the ISO 37120 would need to include indicators that situate cities within their regional contexts, addressing both remoteness and the underlying basis of the Arctic city economy. The index should also measure the role of Indigenous populations, and chart the extent to which cities are working to increase levels of sustainability.
  • Mediating Students’ Fixation with Grades in an Inquiry-Based Undergraduate Biology Course

    DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Tran, Trang C.; Gerken, Sarah (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-09-29)
    The paper analyzes focus group data to explore student perceptions of an inquiry-based undergraduate biology course. Though the course was designed to mimic the scientific process by incorporating uncertainty, peer review, and self-reflection, students came to class focused on getting As and with a developed schema for didactic instruction and passive learning. They perceived the autonomy and self-directedness of the learning experience as a threat to their grades, and responded with strategies that protected their grades and ego, but were deleterious to learning. Students could identify merits of the inquiry-based approach; however, they made clear: they prioritized grades, and were unwilling to trust an unfamiliar pedagogy if they perceived it jeopardized their grades. In the framework of self-regulated learning, the discussion considers how to scaffold students to foreground learning over achievement.
  • The Effect of a Paired Lab on Course Completion and Grades in Nonmajors Introductory Biology

    DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Bibler, Andrew; Gerken, Sarah (American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), 2020-08-21)
    This paper explores the effect of a paired lab course on students’ course outcomes in nonmajors introductory biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. We compare course completion and final grades for 10,793 students (3736 who simultaneously enrolled in the lab and 7057 who did not). Unconditionally, students who self-select into the lab are more likely to complete the course and to earn a higher grade than students who do not. However, when we condition on observable course, academic, and demographic characteristics, we find much of this difference in student performance outcomes is attributable to selection bias, rather than an effect of the lab itself. The data and discussion challenge the misconception that labs serve as recitations for lecture content, noting that the learning objectives of science labs should be more clearly articulated and assessed independent of lecture course outcomes. This paper explores the effect of a paired lab course on students’ course outcomes in introductory biology for nonmajors at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), a large, open-enrollment, 4-year university. We compare outcomes for 10,793 students, 3736 who simultaneously enrolled in the lab and 7057 who did not, and analyze the degree to which they select into the lab on observable characteristics to explore the following research questions: 1. Are students who take a paired lab more likely to complete the lecture component (i.e., receive a final grade as opposed to withdrawing or receiving an Incomplete)? 2. Are students who take a paired lab more likely to receive a higher grade in the lecture component? 3. Does the laboratory experience differently affect course outcomes for students in specific demographic subgroups (e.g., gender, race, high school urbanicity, age, prior academic performance, and socioeconomic status)?
  • Who Benefits from an Oil Boom? Evidence from a Unique Alaskan Data Set

    James, Alexander; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Elsevier, 2020-08-26)
    Oil booms have been shown to increase local employment and wages. But these effects reflect the aggregated experience of residents, commuters, and recent migrants alike. This paper takes advantage of a unique data set that identifies a rich set of labor market outcomes by place of residence, rather than by place of work. Exploiting this feature of the data, we examine the effect of a major oil boom on employment and wage outcomes in the North Slope Borough of Alaska. This analysis is juxtaposed with a more conventional one that uses place-of-work data collected from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Using the Synthetic Control Method, we find that the oil boom of the late 2000s significantly increased non-residential employment. While the boom caused residential employment to shift from the public to the private sector, total residential employment was unaffected. There is weak evidence that residential wages increased in response to the boom. These results are important as drilling decisions are often negotiated locally by interest groups that might be less concerned with general equilibrium effects.
  • Exploring the Term “Resilience” in Arctic Health and Well-Being Using a Sharing Circle as a Community-Centered Approach: Insights from a Conference Workshop

    Healey Akearok, Gwen; Cueva, Katie; Stoor, Jon; Larsen, Christina; Rink, Elizabeth; Kanayurak, Nicole; Emelyanova, Anastasia; Hiratsuka, Vanessa (MDPI AG, 2019-02-02)
    In the field of Arctic health, “resilience” is a term and concept used to describe capacity to recover from difficulties. While the term is widely used in Arctic policy contexts, there is debate at the community level on whether “resilience” is an appropriate term to describe the human dimensions of health and wellness in the Arctic. Further, research methods used to investigate resilience have largely been limited to Western science research methodologies, which emphasize empirical quantitative studies and may not mirror the perspective of the Arctic communities under study. To explore conceptions of resilience in Arctic communities, a Sharing Circle was facilitated at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health in 2018. With participants engaging from seven of the eight Arctic countries, participants shared critiques of the term “resilience,” and their perspectives on key components of thriving communities. Upon reflection, this use of a Sharing Circle suggests that it may be a useful tool for deeper investigations into health-related issues affecting Arctic Peoples. The Sharing Circle may serve as a meaningful methodology for engaging communities using resonant research strategies to decolonize concepts of resilience and highlight new dimensions for promoting thriving communities in Arctic populations.
  • A Framework for Culturally Relevant Online Learning: Lessons from Alaska's Tribal Health Workers.

    Cueva, Katie; Cueva, Melany; Revels, Laura; Lanier, Anne P; Dignan, Mark; Viswanath, K; Fung, Teresa T; Geller, Alan C (2019-08)
    Culturally relevant health promotion is an opportunity to reduce health inequities in diseases with modifiable risks, such as cancer. Alaska Native people bear a disproportionate cancer burden, and Alaska's rural tribal health workers consequently requested cancer education accessible online. In response, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium cancer education team sought to create a framework for culturally relevant online learning to inform the creation of distance-delivered cancer education. Guided by the principles of community-based participatory action research and grounded in empowerment theory, the project team conducted a focus group with 10 Alaska Native education experts, 12 culturally diverse key informant interviews, a key stakeholder survey of 62 Alaska Native tribal health workers and their instructors/supervisors, and a literature review on distance-delivered education with Alaska Native or American Indian people. Qualitative findings were analyzed in Atlas.ti, with common themes presented in this article as a framework for culturally relevant online education. This proposed framework includes four principles: collaborative development, interactive content delivery, contextualizing learning, and creating connection. As an Alaskan tribal health worker shared "we're all in this together. All about conversations, relationships. Always learn from you/with you, together what we know and understand from the center of our experience, our ways of knowing, being, caring." The proposed framework has been applied to support cancer education and promote cancer control with Alaska Native people and has motivated health behavior change to reduce cancer risk. This framework may be adaptable to other populations to guide effective and culturally relevant online interventions.
  • An Evaluation of Cancer Education Webinars in Alaska.

    Cueva, Katie; Cueva, Melany; Revels, Laura; Hensel, Michelle; Dignan, Mark (2019-11-27)
  • Quantifying expert opinion with discrete choice models: Invasive elodea's influence on Alaska salmonids

    Little, Joseph; Hayward, Gregory D. (Elsevier, 2020-10-01)
    Scientific evidence should inform environmental policy, but rapid environmental change brings high ecological uncertainty and associated barriers to the science-management dialogue. Biological invasions of aquatic plants are a worldwide problem with uncertain ecological and economic consequences. We demonstrate that the discrete choice method (DCM) can serve as a structured expert elicitation alternative to quantify expert opinion across a range of possible but uncertain environmental outcomes. DCM is widely applied in the social sciences to better understand and predict human preferences and trade-offs. Here we apply it to Alaska's first submersed invasive aquatic freshwater plant, Elodea spp. (elodea), and its unknown effects on salmonids. While little is known about interactions between elodea and salmonids, ecological research suggests that aquatic plant invasions can have positive and negative, as well as direct and indirect, effects on fish. We use DCM to design hypothetical salmonid habitat scenarios describing elodea's possible effect on critical environmental conditions for salmonids: prey abundance, dissolved oxygen, and vegetation cover. We then observe how experts choose between scenarios that they believe could support persistent salmonid populations in elodea-invaded salmonid habitat. We quantify the relative importance of habitat characteristics that influence expert choice and investigate how experts trade off between habitat characteristics. We take advantage of Bayesian techniques to estimate discrete choice models for individual experts and to simulate expert opinion for specific environmental management situations. We discuss possible applications and advantages of the DCM approach for expert elicitation in the ecological context. We end with methodological questions for future research.
  • In-State Gas Demand Study

    Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2010-01-01)
  • Alaskan fishing community revenues and the stabilizing role of fishing portfolios

    Knapp, Gunnar; Suresh, Sethi; Reimer, Matthew (Science Direct, 9/1/2014)
  • Invasive Species Management Programs in Alaska: A Survey of Statewide Expenditures, 2007 - 11

    Schwoerer, Tobias; Federer, Rebekka; Ferren, Howard II (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 11/1/2012)
  • Defining the economic scope for ecosystem-based fishery management

    Reimer, Matthew (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 3/5/2019)
    The emergence of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has broadened the policy scope of fisheries management by accounting for the biological and ecological connectivity of fisheries. Less attention, however, has been given to the economic connectivity of fisheries. If fishers consider multiple fisheries when deciding where, when, and how much to fish, then management changes in one fishery can generate spillover impacts in other fisheries. Catch-share programs are a popular fisheries management framework that may be particularly prone to generating spillovers given that they typically change fishers� incentives and their subsequent actions. We use data from Alaska fisheries to examine spillovers from each of the main catch-share programs in Alaska. We evaluate changes in participation�a traditional indicator in fisheries economics�in both the catch-share and non�catch-share fisheries. Using network analysis, we also investigate whether catch-share programs change the economic connectivity of fisheries, which can have implications for the socioeconomic resilience and robustness of the ecosystem, and empirically identify the set of fisheries impacted by each Alaska catch-share program. We find that cross-fishery participation spillovers and changes in economic connectivity coincide with some, but not all, catch-share programs. Our findings suggest that economic connectivity and the potential for cross-fishery spillovers deserve serious consideration, especially when designing and evaluating EBFM policies.
  • The Economic Case for a Pandemic Fund

    Berry, Kevin (Springer, 5/21/2018)
    The rapid urban spread of Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014 and consequent breakdown of control measures led to a significant economic impact as well as the burden on public health and wellbeing. The US government appropriated $5.4 Billion for FY2015 and WHO proposed a $100 Million emergency fund largely to curtail the threat of future outbreaks. Using epidemiological analyses and economic modeling, we propose that the best use of these and similar funds would be to serve as global insurance against the continued threat of emerging infectious diseases. An effective strategy would involve the initial investment in strengthening mobile and adaptable capacity to deal with the threat and reality of disease emergence, coupled with repeated investment to maintain what is effectively a �national guard� for pandemic prevention and response. This investment would create a capital stock that could also provide access to safe treatment during and between crises in developing countries, lowering risk to developed countries.

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