The United States’ National Science Foundation has awarded $256,000 to a study of how climate change is affecting Arctic watersheds around Aklavik.
Scientists at Dartmouth University and the University of Arkansas will research how the movement of sediment from mountains to hillslopes and rivers is changing, and how that affects Gwich’in communities.
According to a news release from the University of Arkansas, rising temperatures and increasing permafrost thaw could lead to more rock weathering in mountains west of the community. That, in turn, could increase landslide risks and changes to river habitats.
Jill Marshall, an assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas, said the goal of the study is to “quantify the rate at which the landscape is cracking, breaking apart, and moving.”
That will allow researchers to “anticipate future impacts and identify areas of greatest concern,” Marshall was quoted as saying.
Researchers say they plan to work closely with Gwich’in community members to collect data.
The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the US government that supports research and education in non-medical science.