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.

Flood and Erosion Hazard Assessment for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe Phase 1 Report for the Sauk River Climate Impacts Study

The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe initiated a pilot study to assess the impacts of anticipated climate changes to both tribal infrastructure and the Sauk river ecosystem that supports fish and wildlife critical to the tribe. The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe’s homeland encompasses a broad area including the Sauk and Cascade River watersheds in northwestern Washington. The Sauk River is a large meandering alluvial river that flows north into the Skagit River. Sauk River Miles (RM) start at its confluence with the Skagit. The Tribe’s reservation is located on an alluvial terrace within the Sauk River valley at RM 14, five miles north (downstream) of Darrington and one mile south of the Suiattle River confluence (Figure 1). In the 1940s the main channel of the Sauk River flowed on the eastern side of the reservation, directly adjacent to current residential housing. This old channel was still active and clearly evident in 1954 (Figure 2). In the last 60 years the river’s main channel has been located on the eastern side of the valley but between 1989 and 2013 it has migrated back to the west, toward the reservation, at an average rate of 43 ft/yr (Figure 3). Un-interrupted at this rate, the river would reach housing within 25 years. This could potentially happen much sooner given the old 1940s channel could be rapidly re-occupied by the river (Snohomish County Surface Water Management 2009). The alluvial terrace underlying tribal housing, offices and community buildings is easily erodible and thus at serious risk given the river’s tendency to migrate (Figure 3). The Tribe wanted to know whether the warming climate could worsen flood and erosion risks, and whether changes could adversely impact salmon habitat. This report focuses on flood an erosion risks and how they may be impacted by climate change.

Natural Systems Design, Inc. (NSD) prepared this report for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe as part of the first phase of an interdisciplinary effort designed to contribute critical understanding of Sauk River ecosystem dynamics and sensitivity to climatic changes. The objectives of this report are to: (1) describe the hydrology and geomorphology the Sauk River near the reservation, (2) evaluate available information on potential for climate change to affect future flood flows in the Sauk River basin, (2) document historical changes in river channel and floodplain characteristics of the Sauk-Suiattle Reach, and (3) evaluate the near- term and future threats to tribal infrastructure posed by Sauk River streambank erosion and flooding.

Climate Change in Selawik, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health

Rural Arctic communities are vulnerable to climate change and residents seek adaptive strategies that will protect public health. In the Inupiat community of Selawik, climate change is impacting the weather, land, river, wildlife, plants, and the lives of the people who live there. This report identi es health concerns related to food and water security, and community infrastructure including water and sanitation.

This report documents these issues as described by the local people and interpreted through the lens of public health. It is the fth report in a series describing climate change in Northwest Alaska. Assessments have been performed in two coastal communities (Point Hope and Kivalina), and in two inland river communities (Noatak and Kiana). This is the rst to look at a river delta, speci cally the broad intertidal basin of the Selawik River. These reports were prepared by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Center for Climate and Health in partnership with the Maniilaq Association, the Northwest Arctic Borough, Native Village of Selawik, and the City of Selawik. Funding was provided by the United States Indian Health Service, by the Environmental Protection Agency, and by a Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Information sources for this report include observations of local residents acquired through semi-structured interviews, detailed participant observations as well as on site observations by the authors. Other important sources include reports from government agencies, and scienti c evidence gathered from published studies.

Shaktoolik, Alaska: Climate Change Adaptation for an At-Risk Community

This community-driven project builds on efforts by Shaktoolik and other at-risk, mainly Alaska Native villages on the Bering Sea coast to adapt to potentially devastating effects of climate change. It involved a multi-party approach to assist the community of Shaktoolik to make a decision whether to relocate or stay at the current location. The result is a well-defined process that may be replicated by other at-risk communities in the region. A final report documents lessons learned, adaptation methods for Shaktoolik, potential funding sources, and a step-by-step action plan to implement the community's decision.

Climate Change in Wainwright, Alaska Strategies for Community Health

This climate change health assessment project was initiated in 2013 by the North Slope Borough, Health Impact Assessment (HIA) program with a grant from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The project is in collaboration with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), Center for Climate and Health, and participating local governments. ANTHC performed an assessment in 2009 in Point Hope with funding from the U.S. Indian Health Service. Under the current project, baseline information on climate change vulnerabilities was compiled for all of the communities in the North Slope Borough, but with a special focus on Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Atqusuk and Barrow. A project team was established to perform on-site visits and to coordinate with local and regional experts. The team included Heather Dingman from North Slope Borough and Jake Bell and Mike Brubaker from ANTHC. Site visits were performed in Wainwright in June 2013 and in April 2014. The onsite survey and report preparation was based on guidance from the village council, city council and the project team. Information sources include observations of local residents, reports from government agencies, and scientific findings gathered from published sources.

Community Observations on Climate Change Nushagak River Trip Report, September 22-25, 2014

This trip report documents climate change impacts as described by the community members and considers the effects as interpreted through the lens of public health.

In September 2014 the Bristol Bay Native Association, responding to local concerns about climate change impacts, organized an assessment of villages of the Nushagak River, including Koliganek, New Stuyahok and Ekwok. Previous community assessments in the Bristol Bay region were performed in Pilot Point, Levelock and Nondalton and this was an opportunity to investigate a new area and hear the observations and concerns of residents.

The assessment team was lead by Sue Flensburg of the Bristol Bay Native Association and included Gabe Dunham from Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and Mike Brubaker from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Center for Climate and Health. The assessments occurred from September 22nd to 25th, 2014. Each assessment included a community tour, public meetings, training, and installation of time lapse cameras for environmental monitoring. Video footage was taken of impact areas along the Nushagak River.

Swinomish Climate Change Initiative: Impact Assessment Technical Report

In recognition of a growing body of scientific evidence, and in response to certain specific local events, the Swinomish Indian Senate issued a proclamation in 2007 directing action to study the possible effects of climate change on the Swinomish Indian Reservation community, lands, and resources and determine appropriate responses.1 Following this proclamation, the Tribe initiated a two-year project in late 2008 to assess how climate change may affect the Swinomish Indian Reservation and to develop strategies to address potential impacts.

The outcome of this project is the production of three key reports: this Impact Assessment Technical Report, a preliminary Adaptation Strategy Report, and a Community Action Plan with recommendations for future adaptation options and strategies. This technical report comprises the first milestone of the project. It represents the work of a multidisciplinary team led by staff of the Swinomish Office of Planning & Community Development, in partnership with the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group (CIG), and with further scientific assistance from Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC). The report describes the scientific data and potential climate change scenarios, assesses possible local impacts, and identifies specific areas of potential risk and vulnerability to climate change effects.

Science Summary: Heat wave in Phalodi, India, 19 May 2016

On Thursday 19 May 2016, India experienced an all-time record high temperature for any calendar day. The high temperature reached 51°C in the city of Phalodi in the Jodhpur district of the state of Rajasthan. By some accounts it was the third-highest temperature ever documented globally. It was so hot that many residents of this city of about 50,000 simply remained indoors. Those who did venture outside in Gujarat’s Valsad found their sandals sticking to molten roads.

Temperatures were high across much of Rajasthan on that day, with a majority of stations recording maximum temperatures above 46°C. The state capital of Jaipur saw its hottest day in the past 11 years, with a maximum temperature of 46.5°C, while Delhi, India’s capital, reached 46.8°C.

The Raising Risk Awareness Project – delivered by CDKN with the World Weather Attribution initiative – undertook an analysis of whether human-induced climate change had contributed to the heat wave event – to inform decision-makers whether such  heat waves are more likely to happen in the future. The analysis found that:

  • Consistent with human-caused climate change, annual mean temperatures across India are increasing.
  • Heat waves in a relatively small area of India are becoming more frequent and more intense, but this is not true for most of the country.
  • On 19 May 2016, the city of Phalodi in Rajasthan set an all-time record for any calendar day, hitting 51°C.
  • This analysis used peer-reviewed methods to see if climate change is affecting the risk of record heat like that on 19 May 2016 in north-western India, and like that of a similar one-day heat event in Andhra Pradesh in May 2015.
  • The analysis did not find that human-induced climate change played a role in these individual heat waves. This runs counter to studies done on similar extreme heat events in other parts of the world.
  • The lack of a detectable climate change trend may be due to the masking effect of aerosols on warming, and on irrigation use.

Beaubassin East is a Canadian Rural Community in Westmorland County, New Brunswick