BSSN at Arctic Frontiers 2013 Conference in Norway

BSSN at Arctic Frontiers 2013 Conference in Norway

The Arctic Frontiers 2013 Conference will take place January 20-25 at the University of Tromsø in Tromsø, Norway. The theme for the 2013 conference is “Geopolitics and Marine Production in a Changing Arctic.” Victoria Gofman, BSSN principal investigator, will be presenting in the science section:

Part II. Marine Harvesting in the Arctic
Presentation: Friday 25 Jan, 10:50 – 13:00
“Capturing Coupling of Socio-economic and Environmental Changes in the Bering Sea Sub Network (BSSN): A Distributed Human Sensor Array to Detect Arctic Environmental Change”
Victoria Gofman
1 ,2, Lilian Alessa3, Andy Kliskey3, Patricia Cochran4 1Collaborative Research & Consulting, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, 2Aleut International Association, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, 3Resilience and Adaptive Management Group, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, 4Alaska Native Science Commission, Anchorage, Alaska, USA

As Arctic environment continues to change at an unprecedented rate, the Arctic social and economic landscape is being transformed as well, creating new opportunities and challenges. For small indigenous communities around the Arctic, this new reality may signify prosperity or demise of their societies. How can new scientific knowledge be used to provide a solid foundation for policies needed to assure food security of Arctic peoples?

BSSN is a regional initiative of community-based organizations in Western Alaska and Northeast Russia for the collection and local management of regional research and monitoring data derived from local observations. The overall goal of BSSN is to improve the scientific knowledge of the environmental changes in the BSSN region that have significance for understanding of pan-arctic processes, enabling scientists, arctic communities and governments to predict, plan and respond to these changes.

The pilot project was carried in six initial communities, divided equally between U.S. and Russia, during IPY 2008-2009. It paved the way for a five-year (2009-2014) research project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

BSSN addresses the questions of: 1) historical and present distribution and properties of economic and subsistence important species (ESS) as derived from collective indigenous and traditional knowledge; 2) types of major variables and indicators that could be correlated with western science to develop predictable models based on indigenous and traditional knowledge; and 3) spatial and temporal convergence and divergence of community-derived and western science data.

Observations are collected across the network using standard protocols and survey methodology. Trained local residents conduct semi-directed interviews to gather quantitative, qualitative and spatial data on subsistence activities in BSSN member-communities, three coastal villages in the Russian regions of Chukotka and Kamchatka and five villages in Western Alaska – all intimately connected to the Bering Sea and dependent on its resources for their wellbeing.

Preliminary results indicate that local and indigenous knowledge: 1) produces accurate observations that can be successfully corroborated with instrumental and other scientific data; 2) can lead to new findings and discoveries; and that local residents are capable, willing and valuable partners in research activities in their communities.

APECS Discussion Panel: 14:00 – 15:00
“Local knowledge and research and policy: bridging the past and present with preparations for the future”