Co-production of Knowledge and a Path for Inclusive Climate Change Science
Learn how scientists and Indigenous Knowledge-holders produced new knowledge about the changing sea-ice environment.
Taking its name from the Iñupiaq phrase for “ice bridge” the Ikaaġvik Sikukun project has successfully built bridges between a diverse team of scientists and Indigenous Knowledge-holders to produce new knowledge about the changing sea-ice environment of Kotzebue Sound, Alaska and its implications for sustained subsistence existence for the community there. The group broke new ground by co-developing our hypotheses in partnership with an Indigenous Elder Advisory Council and defining the research questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries, incorporate Indigenous knowledge, and utilize technology enabled methods that address the needs of both the local and scientific communities. To share this story broadly and in a way that respects the oral traditions of Indigenous Knowledge, the team also included an ethnographic film-maker who has been documenting each step of our unique research journey.
Over the past five years, the project designed and carried out a research plan to observe the sea ice and marine mammals in Kotzebue Sound and how these come together as habitat and hunting grounds. Methods included Indigenous knowledge about seal behavior and hunting practices, cutting edge technologies such as remote sensing from high-endurance Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles (drones) and satellites as well as more classical oceanography such as moorings. Throughout the process, the team engaged in a continual dialogue with the Advisory Council to co-interpret findings and develop new questions. More recently, the project is starting to set up a community based and community-led microbial observatory to study the impact of climate change on the base of the marine food web and increased incidence of toxic Harmful Algal Blooms that could affect the marine ecosystem and the people who depend on those waters for up to 70% by weight of their annual food harvest.
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