Thursday, May 05, 2011

Forests, Wildlife, Sea Ice, and Biomes (Yeah, What's a Biome?)

The official title of this afternoon panel was: Meeting Climate Information Needs in Alaska. I'm losing speed here so my coverage isn't too thorough.

The last session got out late and so it took me a bit to find where to go.  I got in late, but judging from the program, I think I was listening to Jane Wolken from UAF talking about Impacts and Consequences of Climate Changes in Alaska's Forests.  I've got a slide, but didn't get into it enough to post more than this.

Now Todd Brinkman is talking about "Impacts of Climate Change on Local Availability of Wildlife:  An Integrative Model"   

[On the surface  - this sounded like a reasonably sensitive study in how Alaska Natives were involved in the study.]

He went to villages and talked to local villagers to have communities self identify important species.  In each village, questions like:

When does most moose harvest occur ?  What factors affect . . . (he changed the slide)

Then took the reports back to the village to get their feedback and revised it until they said it was right.  Developed a relationship table.
Temperatures, Rain and Drought, Snow, Fire, etc. and how these impact hunting.

Go back discuss how climate has changed in the past and then return to look at how it is happening now and thoughts about the future.  Pretty interesting.  Almost unanimous agreement between local hunters and the trajectory of change. 

Model will give us availability for each of the species.  Some results:  Moose - output for seasonal distribution for moose around Venetie.  White indicates increase, black decrease, gray in-between.  Then look at Access and Abundance.  Looks like an overall increase in abundance.  Then do this for each species

Then go back to communities with the maps and say, this could be the likely scenario of how things may change and why.  Based on what they've been saying this is possible scenario and then talk about adaptation.
19 species
38% decrease
56 % no increase
6% increase
Not because populations declining.  Climate change is resulting in more challenging access.  Hunting bowhead whales on sea ice.  Whales are increasing, but climate changing weather and sea ice.  No more multi year sea ice - it's thinner.  More open water, more vulnerable.
Todd Brinkman
Striking preliminary knowledge.  We may get very different outcomes.  Local knowledge very rich and deep on access and a little on seasonal distribution.  My background is wildlife ???? - on abundance.  So if we combine this all, we have the most complete comprehensive knowledge.  These forms of knowledge don't compete, but complete one another.

The last two I'll give you the names and titles, but I just wasn't able to keep up.

Tracy  Rogers - Future Sea Ice Dynamics and Implications for Access to the Arctic

Evie Whitten (The Nature Conservancy) - Change and Refugia - Potential Biome Shifts in a Changing Climate

What's a biome?  From the University of California Museum of Paleontology:
Biomes are defined as "the world's major communities, classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterized by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment" (Campbell 1996). The importance of biomes cannot be overestimated. Biomes have changed and moved many times during the history of life on Earth. More recently, human activities have drastically altered these communities. Thus, conservation and preservation of biomes should be a major concern to all. For further information, please consult the references page.
Here we group biomes into six major types:
Freshwater Marine Desert Forest Grassland Tundra

Results:  1.  Resiliance - areas with most and least change
60% of Alaska may shift from its present biome.
. . .  Much of SE Alaska shifting
Western tundra most vulnerable with least resilience

Potential expansion of Tundra swan.

Phase 2:  Applied further, narrowed the goals.  Use better and more data, only look at biome shifts, not species.  For Alaska, Yukon, and Northwest Territories.

 I'm leaving out her discussion of the methodology. 

Clustering 11 biomes and 18 biomes. 

Preliminary results.  Will wrap up at end of September.

Greatest resillience in Aluetians, SC Alaska, Southeas, and parts of interior AK and southern Yukon.


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