“Climate Change Impacts on Economic and Social Resilience and Adaptation of People in Alaska and the Yukon”
Modeling Vegetation in the Western Arctic Climate change is causing multiple changes in the arctic natural environment such as permafrost thaw, wildfire, and rain-in-winter events which are already causing massive damages to the region’s infrastructure. Arctic residents are forced to adapt to rapid changes in the coupled human-environmental system and have to try to mitigate effects of all three hazards simultaneously, which can be challenging. In collaboration with several other scientists, my project will conduct a spatially explicit assessment of permafrost thaw, wildfire, and rain-in-winter events as they have evolved since 1980 and how they might change until 2060 in the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska; the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska; and Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. My contribution to this project is the development and verification of annual, 30-meter-resolution vegetation maps for the three study areas from 1980 to 2060 using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), R, statistics, and ancillary datasets on elevation, aspect, slope, climate, soils, and historic fire. These vegetation maps will be used as inputs into a wildfire hazard assessment model, a permafrost model, and economic models to help our partner communities make better-informed decisions regarding how and where to build and manage public and private infrastructure and finance public services.