Cup’ig Man, Nunivak Island, 1929

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Permafrost thaw results in $20 million in water management expenses for Alaska zinc mine

“A company operating one of the world’s largest zinc mines in Northwest Alaska said thawing permafrost linked to global warming forced an expenditure of nearly $20 million on water storage and discharge management.

Teck Resources Ltd. says permafrost thaw in the watershed surrounding the massive Red Dog Mine is releasing higher natural levels of dissolved minerals and other particles into streams, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.”

– via Anchorage Daily News. Read the full article here.

Trump orders fleet of icebreakers and new bases in push for polar resources

Article via The Guardian

“The intensifying rivalry over sea routes and mineral resources in the Arctic, itself a consequence of the climate emergency, has caused alarm over its environmental impact. 

“Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against state violence, the Trump administration is still finding new ways to exploit the climate crisis. He is truly the worst president for the planet we’ve ever had,” Charlie Cray, a senior researcher for Greenpeace USA, said.

“There are so many ways our tax dollars could be used to support Arctic communities. Helping out the oil industry and the military with a new fleet of icebreakers is definitely last on the list.”

Polar military experts are also sceptical over the urgency of the “icebreaker gap” with Russia. 

“Icebreakers – even if armed – don’t really address some of the most commonly cited challenges that China and Russia might pose for the United States in the Arctic,” Paul Avey, assistant professor for political science at Virginia Tech university, argued. “This isn’t to say icebreakers can play no role in competition. But in narrow defence terms, I think that the best way to address China and Russia in the Arctic – and Antarctic – is to focus on issues in eastern Europe and the western Pacific.” 

Read the full article here

Thoughts on moving forward

Officially beginning my journey of writing and photographing the Baltic, Balkan and circumpolar regions of the world where I will focus on their native cultures, environmental issues, folk history, art, etc. No more jobs that make me want to die. If anything I’d rather continue thriving in survival mode among beautiful places where I meet the people of the world. Welcome to my blog, where I will try to document my journey.

A fading culture adapts to the changing times in this Arctic town

‘With each new border and political shift, the indigenous women of Chukotka, Russia adjust to maintain their heritage and survive.’

mtn_elizavete_russia2017-27_opt

“Elizaveta is Siberian Yupik and was born in 1942 in the village of Naukan, Chukotka, on the edge of the Bering Sea. She lived there until 1949. When she was seven years old her family moved about 50 miles away to Lavrentiya. Naukan remained her summer home until 1958 when the Soviet authorities closed the village. They explained that Naukan was not a good place to build modern houses and that it was not healthy to live in yurangas, traditional tents. In the summer of 1958, the usual supply ship with food and coal did not come, and within two months Naukan was closed and its people banned from returning.

At that time, Elizaveta remembers her great uncle saying “If they close Naukan, we will lose our language.” “Now,” she told me, “that is what has happened … My grandchildren do not speak it.” Yet 60 years after that relocation Yiakunneun lives on, hidden in a special place in this apartment, just as she would have been hidden in the yuranga generations ago. I wonder where she will be generations from now, who will look after her, and what a Yupik home will look like by then.” – Jennifer Kingsley, 2019. Read the full article here. 

What happens when the Bering Sea’s ice disappears?

030219_arctic-sea_featMISSING ICE Cameras, like this one, set up in the Chukchi and Bering seas, record how much light reaches through the melt ponds that sit atop sea ice. More light means more algal blooms grow below the surface. K. FREY

‘Record low sea ice in 2018 sent ripples through the entire Arctic ecosystem’

“There were early signs that conditions in 2017 and 2018 were going to be different. By November 2017, the sea ice was already late. The air above the waves wasn’t especially warm. In fact, the air temperature was typical for that time of year, Phyllis Stabeno, a physical oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, reported at the December meeting. But an unusually persistent wind was blowing from the south, she said, preventing the ice from drifting down from the Chukchi Sea as it would normally.

The wind tapered off by December and January, but by then air temperatures were higher than normal. The Chukchi Sea, normally at least 80 percent covered by thick, tough, icebreaker-testing pack ice by January, still had large open swaths of water. That meant less ice was available to migrate southward through the Bering Strait.” – Carolyn Gramling, 2014. Read the full article here.

 

Planet Alaska: Woven with herring

“Down on the dock I say, “Gunalchéesh,” as my friend hands me a five-gallon bucket filled with herring eggs on hemlock branches. I take the bucket home and start a small pot of water boiling. I blanch a small batch of eggs and then eat them with soy sauce. It tastes like home. I am home when I eat herring eggs. Later, I take the herring eggs around to friends and elders. Sharing is an important Tlingit value and sharing herring eggs is a ritual connecting me to my people and place. This ritual is in danger of being lost.

Sadly, we are running out of time to save the herring. The herring fishery in Southeast Alaska is one of our “canaries in the cave,” meaning the herring decline is an early indicator of problems throughout our food web. One after another, 11 herring management areas in Southeast Alaska have been over-fished to near extinction. Extinction is a serious word. Historical herring fisheries once thrived at Kah Shakes/Cat Island, West Behm Canal, Ernest Sound, Hobart Bay, Seymour Canal, Chatham Strait, Hoonah Sound, Tenakee Inlet, Auke Bay, Lynn Canal, Icy Strait and Yakutat Bay. The Sitka Sac Roe Fishery is the last population of herring in Alaska to provide a significant commercial harvest and subsistence herring egg harvest. Despite these losses, Alaska Department of Fish and Game has ignored the traditional ecological science and testimonials of the Tlingit who’ve harvested in a sustainable way here for more than 10,000 years. Mismanagement has resulted in the decline of our herring population. This frightens me. Our elders tell us that life in Southeast is not possible without the herring. Why is this so hard for the state of Alaska to understand?”

Read the full Juneau Empire article here

15873891_web1_herring-eggs-sitka-branches-115873891_web1_53470224_680297099054460_2200044199343030272_nTop: Herring eggs hang from a hemlock branch in Sitka. (Courtesy Photo | Vivian Prescott), Bottom: In this photo from the William L. Paul Sr. Archives, herring eggs dry on the beach in Sitka circa 1900 (Courtesy Photo | Sealaska Heritage Institute).

Anthropology Research Proposal: On Chinook Salmon

Replenishing Major Food Sources of Native Alaskan Tribes: Managing Yukon River Chinook Salmon Populations

Megan Lorino, UAF Wildlife Biology and Conservation Studies

 

Abstract

Populations of Chinook Salmon have been dwindling in the Yukon River for many years and have been monitored closely by scientists with the goal of bringing healthy populations back. Native Alaskan tribes have always relied heavily on these salmon populations as a major food source. The United States and Canada came to an agreement in 2016 known as the Yukon River Salmon Agreement; the goal of this agreement was to begin working on restoring healthy salmon populations which end up being harvested in both Canada and the United States. Climate Central reported that in 2014 Chinook Salmon populations in the Yukon River dropped so low that there was a hold put on subsistence fishing. Native Alaskans rely heavily on these salmon populations for subsistence in their tribes. “Subsistence salmon fishing is at the core of many residents’ livelihood; integrating fish wheels, dip netting and fish smoking into many Alaskans’ everyday life. Salmon are more than food or just fish – they are a way of life to many Alaskans (Beutler, 2016).” I examine possible solutions for preserving and rebuilding salmon populations in the Yukon River with the goal of replenishing this important food source for Native Alaskan tribes which still rely on harvesting wild resources in order to survive. Environmental factors such as sea ice temperature and salt concentrations will need to continue being monitored to determine where fisheries management can assist in spawning and abundance of this critical food source. 

 

References Cited

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 2019. 2019 Yukon River Salmon Fisheries Outlook. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/applications/dcfnewsrelease/1029815354.pdf

 

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, n.d. Subsistence in Alaska. Overview: Definition, Responsibilities and Management. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=subsistence.definition

 

Beutler, H. 2016. Threat to Salmon Imperils Alaska’s Culture. Climate Central. https://www.climatecentral.org/news/when-salmon-disappear-alaskan-culture-may-follow-20522

 

Burke, J. 2012. Alaska Natives rally for restored aboriginal hunting, fishing rights. Anchorage Daily News. https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/alaska-natives-rally-restored-aboriginal-hunting-fishing-rights/2012/10/18/

 

Gautier, A. 2019. Running against time: Forecasting Chinook salmon runs on the Yukon River. NSIDC Highlights. National Snow & Ice Data Center. https://nsidc.org/nsidc-highlights/2019/08/running-against-time-forecasting-chinook-salmon-runs-yukon-river

 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 2002. U.S. and Canada Sign Historic Yukon River Salmon Agreement. News Releases. https://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ref=us-and-canada-sign-historic-yukon-river-salmon-agreement&_ID=2592