Now showing items 1-13 of 13

    • Conditions For Effective Use Of Community Sustainability Indicators And Adaptive Learning

      Powell, James E.; Kofinas, Gary (2012)
      As the number of community sustainability indicator programs (SIPs) increases in many regions of the world, including in the United States, questions continue to arise regarding how decision makers can use sustainability indicators (SIs) to contribute in a meaningful way to their efforts to build resilient and sustainable communities. Through an analysis of the sustainability activities in sample cities from across the U.S. and a case study of one city that adopted SIs but has yet to implement them, this study seeks to uncover the conditions for effective SI implementation and use. The study began with a review of the literature on communities' sustainability efforts and the historical roots of sustainability and resilience theory leading up to today's sustainability indicator projects. A heuristic model for adaptive learning is presented to illustrate the relationships among sustainability, resilience, and administrative concepts, including the goals and domains of sustainability indicators. The study's data collection and analysis began with an Internet-based investigation of 200 U.S. cities. A five-tiered system was devised to categorize findings regarding sustainability patterns and trends in studied cities, ranging from an absence of sustainability activities through fully implemented sustainability indicators. The second phase of data collection employed an electronic survey completed by informants from a 38-city sample of the 200 investigated cities, followed by phone interviews with informants from cities that ranked high for developed sustainability programs. A case study using focus group research was then conducted of one small U.S. city, Juneau, Alaska, where local government adopted sustainability indicators in the 1990s but fell short of implementing them. Most cities in the U.S. have not developed sustainability indicator projects, and, among those that have, few have been able to implement them fully. Among highly ranked cities with sustainability indicators, several approaches, including innovative organizational structures and adaptive learning processes, were found to be present. Recommendations for incorporating such innovations and for grounding sustainability indicator projects in sustainability science, resilience thinking, and public administration theory are offered to help ensure sustainability indicators become fully operational in Juneau, as well as in other communities seeking to establish successful sustainability indicator programs.
    • Carbon Cycling In Three Mature Black Spruce ( Picea Mariana [Mill.] B.S.P.) Forests In Interior Alaska

      Vogel, Jason Gene; Valentine, David (2004)
      Climate warming in high latitudes is expected to alter the carbon cycle of the boreal forest. Warming will likely increase the rate of organic matter decomposition and microbial respiration. Faster organic matter decomposition should increase plant available nutrients and stimulate plant growth. I examined these predicted relationships between C cycle components in three similar black spruce forests (Picea mariana [Mill] B.S.P) near Fairbanks, Alaska, that differed in soil environment and in-situ decomposition. As predicted, greater in-situ decomposition rates corresponded to greater microbial respiration and black spruce aboveground growth. However root and soil respiration were both greater at the site where decomposition was slowest, indicating greater C allocation to root processes with slower decomposition. It is unclear what environmental factor controls spruce allocation. Low temperature or moisture could cause spruce to increase belowground allocation because slower decomposition leads to low N availability, but foliar N concentration was similar across sites and root N concentration greater at the slow decomposition site. The foliar isotopic composition of 13C indicated soil moisture was lower at the site with greater root and soil respiration. From a literature review of mature black spruce forests, it appears drier (e.g. Alaska) regions of the boreal forest have greater soil respiration because of greater black spruce C allocation belowground. Organic matter characteristics identified with pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry correlated with microbial processes, but organic matter chemistry less influenced C and N mineralization than did temperature. Also, differences among sites in C and net N mineralization rates were few and difficult to explain from soil characteristics. Warming had a greater influence on C and N mineralization than the mediatory effect of soil organic matter chemistry. In this study, spruce root C allocation varied more among the three stands than other ecosystem components of C cycling. Spruce root growth most affected the annual C balance by controlling forest floor C accumulation, which was remarkably sensitive to root severing. Predicting the response of black spruce to climate change will require an understanding of how spruce C allocation responds to available moisture and soil temperature.
    • Landscape Control Of Thunderstorm Development In Interior Alaska

      Dissing, Dorte; Verbyla, David (2003)
      General Circulation Models suggest a future climate of warmer and possibly drier summers in the boreal forest region, which could change fire regimes in high latitudes. Thunderstorm development is a dominant factor in the continental boreal forest fire regime, through its influence as a fire starting mechanism. Global Climate Change research has identified the land-atmosphere interface as a vital area of a needed research in order to improve our predictions of climate change. This dissertation has focused on the development of thunderstorms and lightning strike activity in a boreal forest region in Interior Alaska and on how the underlying surface can influence their development. I have examined the distributions and correlations between lightning strikes, thunderclouds, thunderstorm indices (CAPE and LI), elevation, and vegetation variables in Alaska. The relationships were examined at scales ranging from the Interior region of the state to individual wildfire burn scars, and at temporal scales ranging from the annual to daily. The objective is to understand the influential factors and processes responsible for thunderstorm development in Alaska, such that we may produce well-founded predictions on future thunderstorm regimes caused by a changing climate. The scale-related studies of this dissertation show that both processes and important variables for development of thunderstorms and lightning activity vary within and between the scales. It appears that on the larger scales, the combined effects of boreal forest and elevation on increased lightning strike activity were more prevalent than at the smallest scale (local). When the scale gets too small for the boundary layer to be affected (<10km), land surface effects on lightning cannot be. My results suggest that the underlying surface (in the form of areal forest coverage and vegetation) has more of an influence on convective development on days with airmass storms than on days with synoptic storms.
    • Spatial resilience and the incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge in mapping Sitka herring

      Shewmake, James W. II; Greenberg, Josh; Verbyla, Dave; Holen, Davin (2013-05)
      This project assesses the utility of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in conducting research on herring stocks within Sitka Sound. By considering ethnographic data of the marine environment it is possible to identify key spatial attributes associated with the resource. This information was used to construct a social-ecological systems model (SES) for analysis within a spatial resilience framework. From this SES model, resilience surrogates were identified to analyze effort and success within the fishery. These indicators provided valuable insight into how subsistence users relate to the marine environment when they participate in the harvesting of herring spawn. To collect TEK data, the researcher, employed as a graduate intern with the Division of Subsistence, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF & G) worked cooperatively with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA). TEK data was used to identify marine habitat types, subsistence harvest locations (mapping), customary and traditional practices, and changing trends in accessibility to the resource. This information was supplemented with quantitative data including spatial habitat mapping and herring spawn distribution. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to display, analyze, and understand these variables and their measured outcomes to construct the SES model.
    • Embargo test with Anonymous policies 10/18/17

      CHISUM; Chair; Committee Member 1; Committee Member 2 (2017-10)
      Embargo test with Anonymous policies 10/18/17
    • Russian capacity to develop its offshore hydrocarbon resources in the Kara Sea: Arctic and global implications

      Skinner, Jon A.; Brigham, Lawson; Sfraga, Mike; Eichelberger, John; Reynolds, Douglas (2016-12)
      Increasing seasonal ice free Arctic waters and market demand to expand hydrocarbon extraction to previously undeveloped offshore regions has accelerated an Arctic priority in national strategies and international forums. It is proposed that geo-strategically, the sheer size of the Kara Sea hydrocarbon fields is of a predictive magnitude great enough to impact the progression or regression of the Russian economy; and thereby have a predictive value on the capacity for Russian unilateral foreign policy decisions. Rosneft has released figures of a potential 30 to 40 billion barrels of recoverable undiscovered oil reserves in the South Kara Sea basin and significantly more in the more remote northern waters, representing the largest unexploited hydrocarbon potential remaining for the Russian Federation. There are also undercurrents of skepticism that the Russians may not achieve offshore production at the pace and or scale they envision. Though the direct economic contributions to the global economy of exploitation of Kara Sea hydrocarbons is likely not a game changer, the technological sophistication it will require and the level of cooperation and integration needed between the most advanced Western corporate techniques and Russian partners, could well be for Russian central state stability. In this context, hydrocarbon development in the Kara Sea region lends itself to interdisciplinary study as a means to assess Russia's relative strategic stability. The research incorporated two primary tools to assess the drivers impacting successful Russian hydrocarbon development of its Kara Sea resources. The first was a survey-interview of experts and the second was the creation of scenario narratives (assisted by a workshop of Arctic experts and stakeholders). The four scenarios were designed to explore the complexity of the interplay of the drivers of hydrocarbon development in the Kara Sea, with the objective, of identifying plausible future decision points for planners and policy makers.
    • Changing strategies in Seward Peninsula reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) management

      Oleson, Heather J. (2005-12)
      Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) management techniques have changed since the founding of the reindeer industry on the Seward Peninsula in 1891. From 1891-1915, herds were small and management was intensive. Between 1915 and 1944, community herds and joint stock companies were formed. Herd management was extensive and herds were large and relatively free roaming. A period of re-privatization followed from 1944 to 1960, during which a limited number of moderately stocked ranges were established. The era after 1960 saw the introduction of several new forms of technology, some of which became catalysts for broad changes in reindeer management. Snow machines (c. 1960s), helicopters (c. 1970s), radio telemetry (c. 1980s), and Internet use became an integral part of how reindeer were managed. Most recently, satellite telemetry and online mapping have been developed as herd management tools. Combining telemetry, mapping programs, and the Internet allows herders to monitor range use, herd movement, and whether their animals need to be moved to refuge areas to prevent mixing with caribou. Equipped with this knowledge, herders can more effectively use ATV's and aircraft to manage their herds.
    • Distribution and ecology of exotic plants in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

      McKee, Paul Christian (2004-12)
      The distribution of exotic plants and site factors influencing their abundance on roads and trails were studied in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve during the summer of 2003. Seventeen species of exotic plants were found in the park at 173 locations. The most common species (Taraxacum officinale, Plantago major) were present at all study sites, while some (Trifolium spp., Bromus inermis, Leucanthemum vulgare) were restricted to specific disturbance types and particular areas. Though sampling was limited to areas in which exotic plants were growing, percent cover of exotics was not a significant component of sample sites, and exotic species richness was low at all sampling locations at 1.42 species per m². Data were analyzed using ordination and multiple regression to determine variables most responsible in explaining variation in exotic plant communities. Statistically significant site variables correlated with percent cover of exotics included percent cover of vascular native plants, percent cover litter, and percent bare soil at most study sites. The importance of these variables indicates that the presence of exotic plants in Wrangell-St. Elias is closely linked to disturbance, and that the invasion of exotic plants is in the initial phases.
    • A model for sustainability science in higher education: water research, science and sustainability literacy, and community adaptive capacity

      Fabbri, Cindy E.; Sparrow, Elena; Gerlach, Craig; Schnabel, William; Fox, John (2013-08)
      Climate change, population growth, land use changes, and a society more tightly connected at a global scale are impacting our freshwater resources and are forcing some communities to respond to their changing environment. Communities that want to plan for a more sustainable future require fundamental information about social-ecological systems, a scientifically and sustainability literate population who can use information for decision-making, and high levels of adaptive capacity (i.e., access to and ability to mobilize human, social, natural, and financial capital). Through their tripartite mission of research, education, and service, institutions of higher education can help ensure that these community needs are met. Many institutions are already answering this call by engaging in sustainability science. There is, however, a lack of insight from the field of education informing the field of sustainability science. One result of this is that conceptual and applied models for sustainability science are not fully developed. The goal of this work was to develop and test a model, based on literature and best practice, that institutions of higher education could use to inform their work in sustainability science. This work used a case study, action research approach to test the developed model to determine if the expected outcomes were achieved. Results show that the model was effective in generating knowledge about freshwater systems and in increasing student researchers' scientific and sustainability literacy. Results also show that the original model slightly increased community adaptive capacity and a refined model is offered to improve outcomes in this area. One major contribution of this work is that it puts forth a new conceptual model suggesting that sustainability science is a field of research, learning, and community engagement. Another important contribution of this research is that offers a new applied model that demonstrates how society, through its institutions of higher education, can functionally and effectively integrate research, learning, and community to work in the field of sustainability science and foster sustainability in social-ecological systems. This study is potentially transformative in suggesting new ways that institutions of higher education can address the challenge of sustainability.
    • Modeling changes in the length of the agricultural growing season in Interior Alaska

      Swenson, Nicole Y.; Rupp, T. Scott; Bolton, Robert; Seefeldt, Steven S.; Greenberg, Joshua A. (2013-08)
      Food security is a growing global concern as population growth continues in a period of rapid climatic change. The amplification of climate change and dependence upon imported foods at high latitudes makes Alaskans especially vulnerable to both global and local changes. Although many climate impacts present challenges, rising air temperatures could provide economic opportunities for Alaskan agriculturalists by extending growing seasons. Future growing season length has previously been estimated, however these estimates did not explicitly account for the constraints of agricultural systems. This research explores the relationship between air temperature, soil temperature and growing season length in agricultural management systems in Interior Alaska to better understand how climate scenarios can be used to identify future opportunities. Air and soil temperature data were collected under four different crop systems and used in combination with historical observations to inform a model that projects usable growing degree-days in Interior Alaska to the end of the century. Increases of usable degree-days were projected to increase from 33-70% by 2100. The projected increases could increase success of currently marginally successful crops (e.g., canola, corn, and sunflowers). Such opportunities could lead to increased food security, but future planning will require culturally appropriate planning and institutional support.
    • Local trapping as predator control in rural Alaska: limiting factors in Allakaket and Alatna and the potential for increased community involvement in wildlife management

      Hatcher, Heidi L; Fix, Peler; Koskey, Michael; Kielland, Knut; Stout, Glenn (2013-08)
      For a community to be involved in natural resources management that community must have the capacity to make management actions. The capacity for a community to be involved in natural resources management or to take management action might be dependent on a wide variety of factors, largely based upon the resource and asset base available to a community. Aerial wolf control as a wildlife management strategy in the state of Alaska is a controversial endeavor. In the rural villages of Allakaket and Alatna wolf trapping was traditionally a commonly practiced subsistence activity but local levels of wolf trapping are currently very low. The State of Alaska began performing aerial wolf control around Allakaket and Alatna in February 2013 per the request of local residents but the program took more than a decade to come to fruition. To investigate the factors that have led to the decline in local wolf trapping in Allakaket and Alatna and to determine if local trapping could be increased as a means of predator control this study adopted a modified analytic induction methodology. Four propositions and hypotheses were developed regarding the decline in local trapping and the potential to increase local wolf trapping. The propositions and hypotheses were based on the ideas that 1) a community must possess the capacity to take action in order to do so, 2) The benefits of action must outweigh the costs, 3 ) local norms and values must support an action for it to occur, and 4) management roles, responsibilities, and power-dynamics between communities and management agencies can affect the action of a community. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 residents of Allakaket and Alatna to gather data relevant to the propositions and hypotheses. A codebook was developed and Randolph's Free-Marginal Multirater Kappa was calculated with acceptable levels of inter-coder reliability resulting for each code (k >̲ .80). Codes were used to organize data from each interview, which were then used to test the hypotheses. Local norms and values do not appear to be limiting local trapping, the community recognizes the benefits of local trapping to outweigh the costs, and the community also recognizes itself to have a responsibility to take management action, so management power dynamics do not appear to be limiting trapping. The community may not have the full capacity to increase local trapping as a form of local wolf control, as the resources or motivation to organize an increase in local trapping are not being realized within the community. Furthermore, a generation gap was identified that appears to be limiting the ability of the community to connect potential trapping students with teachers to revive and perpetuate the local tradition of trapping.
    • The history of land use on Alaska's Kenai River and its implications for sustaining salmon

      Loshbaugh, Susan F.; Todd, Susan; Huettmann, Falk; Chapin, F. Stuart; Pearson, Roger (2014-05)
      The Kenai River Watershed (KRW), in south-central Alaska, is famous for its salmon. Urbanization along the lower river damages habitat and stresses these valuable fish. Are the river's salmon runs sustainable if recent land-use trends continue? I used interdisciplinary approaches from environmental history and landscape science plus technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) to describe the watershed's land-use history from 1947 to 2010 and to link land use and watershed management to the sustainability of salmon runs. Although the area appears wild compared to many salmon-producing watersheds in other states, it has a long history of intense use and habitat degradation. Over the past 60 years the central Kenai Peninsula showed patterns of intensive riverfront recreational use, coupled with rural exurban sprawl in the uplands. Historic damage to salmon habitat included trampled riverbanks, bank hardening, dredged canals, diverted creeks, toxic spills, poorly built roads with impassable culverts, and the Cooper Lake Dam. More recent threats include cumulative effects, fishing pressure, climate change, invasive species, off-road vehicles, and potential septic leaks. Comparing the Kenai River case with land-use histories in 60 other salmon-producing watersheds suggested that the salmon runs are at risk due to delayed, cumulative effects of development and potential climate change. However, since the late 1980s people have taken unprecedented and progressive steps to protect healthy watershed habitat and reverse past damage. The high level of community commitment and reserves of undamaged habitat provide hope that Alaskans may learn from the grim fate of wild salmon around the world, and take better care of their salmon habitat. I concluded that the sustainability of the salmon runs hangs in the balance and offer a list of recommendations to maintain or enhance the resilience of the system.
    • The governance of wolves in transboundary regions: a triquetrous study of ephemeral agreements transcending sub-national and national boundaries

      Parks, Brett M.; Jolie, Julie Lurman; Kohler, Pia; Juday, Glenn (2013-12)
      Contradictory management objectives in adjacent jurisdictions can affect transboundary wolves and their associated socio-ecological systems. Elite interviews and case study methodology were used in this thesis to explore three transboundary wolf management agreements, their effectiveness, and their impacts on wolves, ecosystems and stakeholders. Separate agreements between the State of Alaska and: Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and Denali National Park and Preserve, and an agreement between Italy and Switzerland show that despite a diversity of socio-ecological contexts, approaches, and hierarchical level of actors, transboundary wolf agreements are prone to ephemerality. The ephemerality of these agreements appears to be due primarily to institutional path dependency, and to political tension between management entities. The impacts of these agreements and their cessation, on socio-ecological systems are limited by the agreements' limited scopes. The agreements do however figure incrementally into larger trends, especially including changes in rural and urban identities, and in large carnivore management discourse. I argue that a diversity of wolf management approaches across a landscape, and the inherent conflict between management entities preserves adaptive capacity by preventing one size fits all prescriptions based on incomplete knowledge. Assuming no acute state of emergency, incremental rather than transformational change is more equitable to diverse stakeholders; allowing public perception, policy, and scientific knowledge to shift concurrently. The cases also suggest that facilitating trans-entity conversation and coordination at multiple levels would support understanding, and increase the prevalence of creative agreements contributing to amenable, incremental change. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are put forth as a potential platform or template for this facilitation.