Ryan Toohey, USGS Alaska Climate Science Center
Tuesday, September 19; 12 -1 PM Alaska Time
The Yukon River Basin (YRB), underlain by discontinuous permafrost, has experienced a warming climate over the last century that has altered air temperature, precipitation, and permafrost. A collaborative effort between the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Indigenous Observation Network (ION) has developed two projects that focus on water quality and permafrost research. More than 300 community environmental technicians have been trained to participate in ION by effectively monitoring and investigating their local environments with global implications. These local observations, obtained over the past decade, have contributed to the global understanding of climate change and ultimately its impacts on Alaska Native Villages. Combined with historical data from the USGS, the ION database now covers over 30 years of historical water quality data in key locations. Trend analysis of this database suggests increased active layer expansion, weathering and sulfide oxidation due to permafrost degradation throughout the YRB. Changing geochemistry of the YRB may have important implications for the carbon cycle, aquatic ecosystems, and contaminant transport. With predicted environmental changes, the efforts of ION and the integration of Indigenous knowledge will become critical to assess, mitigate and adapt to changing local environments.
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