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Sea levels rise and glaciers retreat: Changing subsistence lifestyles in southeast AlaskaAuthor(s): Josh McDaniel; Adelaide Johnson; Linda Kruger
Source: Science Findings 221. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
Publication Series: Science Findings
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (6.0 MB)
DescriptionThe shoreline in southeast Alaska is changing. In many places, the shoreline is rising as glaciers melt and the land rebounds; elsewhere, rising sea levels are submerging the current shoreline. These changes are altering coastal habitats and subsistence resources on which many rural Alaska Native communities rely in southeast Alaska.
Forest Service scientists Adelaide Johnson and Linda Kruger modeled the relationships between physical shoreline features and biological communities to project future shorelines and the distribution of food resources. They also engaged high school students from the study communities to document the knowledge and perspectives of elders about food gathering.
They project that shorelines in southeast Alaska will change by nearly 6 feet of land emergence to 0.65 feet of land submergence in the next 100 years. Protected, low-slope gradient bays and estuaries associated with eelgrass and clam habitat will be most affected. Less change in subsistence resources is projected for rocky, steep-gradient shorelines associated with seaweed and kelp.
Elders in the communities reported harvesting more than 100 species and spent, on average, 45 days per year doing so. Ten percent reported harvesting on more than 100 days per year. Shoreline projections help identify areas that are most vulnerable to physical and biological changes and their effects on subsistence foods.
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CitationMcDaniel, Josh; Johnson, Adelaide; Kruger, Linda. 2019. Sea levels rise and glaciers retreat: Changing subsistence lifestyles in southeast Alaska. Science Findings 221. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
KeywordsClimate change, subsistence, sea level rise, isotastic rebound, adaptation.
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