Rapid Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for the National Marine Sanctuary and Territory of American Samoa

This report summarizes the results of a rapid vulnerability assessment (July 2016) and adaptation strategy planning (September 2016) workshops for 10 focal resources in the Territory and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by engaging with stakeholders, including village leaders, community members, resource managers, local government representatives, and business owners that rely on the resources with the goal of increasing climate resilience in the region. 

Knowledge package: Climate risk to Caribbean prosperity

The escalating cost of climate change to the Caribbean region makes a compelling argument for taking early action for adapting to climate change. An analysis of ten years of climate change research in the Caribbean found that sectors that are vital to regional economic and social development, including agriculture and tourism, are especially vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. The findings suggest that well-targeted measures to adapt will be essential to protect the development gains made by the region in recent decades.

The findings come from a new synthesis of climate research that has been compiled and released by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). The package draws on three CDKN-funded projects that have studied climate change in the Caribbean region over the past decade. The new analysis provides fresh insight into the nature of the climate threat to key sectors in the Caribbean, and draws together practical tools and methods that decision makers in the region can use to help them adapt.

The newly released ‘knowledge package’ draws on the CDKN-funded research to identify cross-cutting lessons. This, the second in a series of four knowledge package releases, focusses on making the case for climate resilient investment, identifying the risks and potential adaptation options.

The research, tools and other resources that have been used to formulate the knowledge package have been compiled and can be accessed via the CDKN webaite: cdkn.org/caribbean.

Key findings from the research include:

  1. Climate variability and change are already having severe impacts on key sectors including agriculture and tourism.
  2. These impacts are reversing economic growth, exacerbating poverty and undermining the future prosperity of Caribbean countries.
  3. CDKN research has provided locally appropriate climate change projections that give fresh insight into the vulnerability of key sectors.
  4. Adaptation investment in the agriculture sector is needed to account for projected changes in rainfall and growing seasons, and occurrence of extreme events, especially drought.
  5. Adaptation investment in the tourism sector is also needed to build resilience to rising seas, bleached coral reefs, water scarcity and gradual temperature increase.
  6. There are many potential adaptation measures that can be applied by governments, businesses, individuals and development partners.
  7. Financial support is needed to support adaptation action as high up-front costs are a barrier to local adaptation e orts.
  8. Effectively prioritising adaptation options can maximise their value and lead to positive co-benefits for individuals, businesses and society.

An information brief, video and infographic have been produced which identify the most important findings from the research. To access these and to find out more about the research on which they were based visit: cdkn.org/2017/02/climate-risk-caribbean-prosperity


Relocation Report: Newtok to Mertarvik

This report presents work to date towards the development of a Strategic Management Plan (SMP) for the relocation of the village of Newtok to a new site at Mertarvik. Newtok is a growing 350-person coastal village fronting on the Ninglick River in western Alaska. The Ninglick River is rapidly eroding and consuming community land and facilities as it advances. The most recent prediction from 2007 is that the river could reach the school by 2017 and several houses in between even sooner.

In general, this project’s scope of work spans two phases. Phase 1, the focus of the preparation of background planning information. Phase 2 focuses on the development of the guiding principles and overall framework for relocation and the production of a SMP, which will be issued later this year. However, this Phase 1 report previews the beginnings of the SMP, hence the title Relocation Report.

Climate Change in Noatak, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health

Rural Arctic communities are vulnerable to climate change and residents seek adaptive strategies that will protect health and health infrastructure. In the Inupiat community of Noatak, climate change is impacting the weather, land, river, wildlife, plants, and the lives of the people who live there. Examples of potential health effects from climate change include injuries from falling through ice, heat stroke from extreme summer temperatures, respiratory ailments from wild re smoke, gastrointestinal infections from waterborne pathogens, chronic diseases in the absence of food security, and damage to critical infrastructure.

This report documents climate change impacts as described by the local people and interpreted through the lens of public health. It is the third report in a series describing climate change in Northwestern Alaska. The first two reports focused on the coastal whaling communities of Point Hope and Kivalina. This is the rst to look at an upriver community characterized by a different climate, environment, and cultural practices. It was prepared by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Center for Climate and Health in partnership with the Maniilaq Association, the Northwest Arctic Borough and the Noatak Traditional Council. Funding was provided by the United States Indian Health Service.

Climate Change in Nondalton, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health

Climate change refers to change over time due to natural variability or as a result of human activity (IPCC, 2008). Alaska is experiencing a wide range of impacts from climate change and communities seek adaptive strategies that encourage wellness and sustainability. This report documents climate change impacts as described by local people and climate change effects or potential effects as interpreted through the lens of public health. It is the seventh report in a series describing climate change across Alaska, and the second report to focus on the Bristol Bay region, the rst being in the community of Pilot Point.

Understanding community impact of climate change is important for assessing negative and positive effects on health. Melting glaciers is improving ight conditions through Lake Clark Pass, but also changing lake conditions with uncertain impacts on sh and wildlife. Some subsistence resources such as caribou are more scarce while some types of salmon are being harvested with greater frequency. Rising temperature in summer raises concerns about heat illness and presents new challenges when preparing dry sh and other subsistence foods. Important health topics include food security, water security, heat related illness, and infrastructure vulnerability to damage and disruption from extreme weather events, and safety related to travel in increasingly unpredictable weather and changing seasons and landscape.

Climate Change in Nuiqsut, Alaska Strategies for Community Health

Climate change refers to change over time due to natural variability or as a result of human activity (IPCC, 2008). Today the term is mostly used to describe global changes caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the warming effect caused by the transfer of enormous quantities of carbon dioxide from the earth to the air. But climate change also has local implications and communities seek adaptive strategies that encourage wellness and sustainability. The North Slope of Alaska is characterized by permafrost and ice. The wildlife, vegetation and people have specially adapted to live in an environment that is mostly cold and frozen. But because of warming, the environment is rapidly changing and a new Arctic is emerging, characterized by thawing land, open water and a longer warm season. For residents of the North Slope this means new challenges in building and maintaining infrastructure, for providing local services, collecting food and water, and safely navigating the land and seascape. It also means new opportunities for subsistence, land use, transportation, commerce and development. Understanding local effects is the rst step in nding a healthy course through the changes and challenges ahead.

Nuiqsut residents recalled the lessons of their elders, who told them about a time to come that would bring warming and hardship (Annie Lampe; Archie Ahkiviana). Similar premonitions have been reported in other villages across the North Slope. Climate change is occurring now and is certainly bringing new challenges to traditional ways of life. But in some ways and in some places, it is also bringing new opportunity. Understanding local impact of climate change is important for assessing both the negative and positive effects, and for developing appropriate adaptation strategies. Residents report unprecedented changes to the weather, seasons, land and seascape, plants, wildlife and infrastructure with important implications for public health. These change raise new concerns about food and water security, safety and mental health related to the stress of adapting to a new climate and changing environment.

Climate Adaptation and Action Plan for the Norton Bay Watershed, Alaska

The changing weather patterns in Alaska are, already, having substantial impacts on Native Alaskan village communities. Increased stream temperatures combined with other climate change related impacts of high river flows, altered ice flows and stream bank erosion, all combine with mining and related development in the Norton Bay Watershed (Watershed) to directly threaten the fishery and wildlife habitat upon which the Native Villages in the area (Villages) depend for their subsistence fishing and hunting. In addition, reduced water flows in the Watershed caused by water diversions from mining and other development activity are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. This can increase water temperatures and impair fish and wildlife habitat.

The Norton Bay Intertribal Watershed Council has developed this adaptation plan as the first step in the long range goal of addressing the many serious consequences of climate change and other non-climate stressors to the landscape and waters of the Norton Bay Watershed. Through a year- long assessment and planning process, the Council has documented the current and future risks, identified potential opportunities to adapt to climate impacts, and put forth here a plan that outlines specific goals, objectives, and action steps necessary to begin to address these urgent needs for the benefit of the four native villages living in Norton Bay and the surrounding ecosystems on which they depend. In addition, this plan can serve as a model for similar adaptation efforts needed across the Alaskan landscape.

Climate Change in Pilot Point, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health

Climate change refers to change over time due to natural variability or as a result of human activity (IPCC, 2008). Alaska communities are experiencing a wide range of impacts from climate change and residents seek adaptive strategies that encourage wellness and sustainability. This report documents climate change impacts and potential impacts as described by the local people and interpreted through the lens of public health. It is the sixth report in a series describing climate change across Alaska, and the rst report to focus on the Bristol Bay Region.

Climate Change in Point Hope, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health

On a narrow promontory extending far out into the Chukchi Sea, the village of Point Hope enjoys one of the nest locations in Alaska for the harvest of subsistence resources, including sh, marine mammals, birds and caribou. This amazing place has allowed the Inupiat of Point Hope to ourish for centuries, and it is one of the oldest continuously occupied communities in Alaska. But it is also one of the most exposed, vulnerable to the full force of coastal storms and the constant shaping of the land by the wind and the sea. Shore erosion and the risk of ooding has forced relocation in the past. Today with the added pressure of climate change, Point Hope continues its struggle with increased urgency; against erosion and against other new emerging challenges to the community, the culture, and to public health.

Three issues were identified that are of special public health concern: first, the permafrost that cools traditional underground food storage cellars is thawing, and there are currently no community alternatives for storage of whale meat and blubber. Secondly, warming is contributing to changes in 7 Mile Lake, the community drinking water source. Temperature in uenced blooms of organic material have clogged water lters, adversely affecting water treatment. Thirdly, the community is increasingly vulnerable to flooding, due to storm intensity, erosion and late freeze up. The airstrip and 7 Mile road are also vulnerable. Emergency planning should continue to address these vulnerabilities, encourage early warning systems for storm events and ensure that evacuation routes and adequate shelter is available in a safe location.

Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Akwesasne

The Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation is located in the St. Lawrence River Valley in upstate New York along the U.S. Canada border. The Mohawk Nation Territory (Akwesasne) straddles three borders – New York State; Ontario, Canada; and Quebec, Canada (see Exhibit 1). Most tribal members fish in the St. Lawrence River, and several other tributary rivers run through the community (including the St. Regis and Raquette Rivers). The St. Lawrence River has a strong current at Akwesasne, and two dams upstream from the reservation produce a significant amount of power. The territory has 3,000 acres of wetlands.

Climate change, long-term changes in weather patterns caused by anthropogenic emissions, poses an additional threat to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The phenomenon is projected to bring a number of changes to Akwesasne, including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as the Ice Storm of 1998, a severe storm that caused many trees and utility poles to fall and produced widespread blackouts. Akwesasne is planning for climate change not because the climate is changing but because the climate is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Climate change has begun, and adaptation needs to be vigorous. It is no longer possible to not do something about climate change.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s (SRMT) Environment Division is investigating the impacts of climate change on the resources, assets, and community of Akwesasne and is developing recommendations for actions to adapt to projected climate change impacts. This plan is a first step in an effort to develop practical actions that the Tribe can take in order to adapt to ongoing and expected climate changes.