UNI to study impact of climate change on native Alaskans

CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa will work with four other schools to address climate change in Alaska over the next four years.

The Cedar Falls institution is getting a near-$14-million from the National Science Foundation to research the social and economic impacts of climate change on the Aleutian Islands’ indigenous population.

Professor Andrey Petrov, director of UNI’s Arctic Center, says most of his team’s scientific work will go toward goals beyond the initial grant.

“We think of this project not just like one big thing that happens in four years,” Petrov says. “We really think of it as a foundation for a long-term study that creates local capacity. The main problem in these local communities is they don’t have the local capacity to study what they want to study.”

Petrov says one of the goals is to bring sustainable employment and education to the area.

“That would establish a network of local community research leads that would provide training and opportunities within the project,” he says, “but hopefully, other agencies will see it as a chance to develop a workforce in Alaska.”

The UNI group will look to recruit, train and educate research team leads from local populations as part of a workforce development initiative. The center will launch the project November 15th.