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 their 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 the unique research journey, which can be viewed via YouTube. 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.
A virtual documentary launch will be hosted on January 27, 2022. Please visit the event webpage for additional information.
- Ajit Subramaniam, Lamont Research Professor at Columbia University
- Alex Whiting, Director of the Native Village of Kotzebue’s Environmental Program
- Carson Witte, PhD student in earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University
- Christopher J. Zappa, Lamont Research Professor at Columbia University
Free and open to the public; registration required. Please email [email protected] with any questions.
Part of the Climate and Society series, as well as the webinar series on Co-production of Knowledge in Climate Science. The Climate and Society series offers new perspectives on climate change and showcases the work of leading scholars and researchers on climate, environment, sustainability, and their social and cultural dimensions. In Spring 2022, each meeting will feature two or more members from the Columbia community who will discuss their research and activism around climate issues.
The Center for Science and Society makes every reasonable effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you require disability accommodations to attend a Center for Science and Society event, please contact us at [email protected] or (212) 853-1612 at least 10 days in advance of the event. For more information, please visit the campus accessibility webpage.