University of Cincinnati assistant professor Wendy Eisner and a team of researchers are studying the Inupiaq people of Alaska as part of a research project on global warming. "It's all woven together," says Eisner. "The processes, the changes, the belief system and the lake drainage."
The Inupiaq people are watching climate change with concern. The lakes are draining; the permafrost is thawing; their coastline is eroding. They must now adapt to changes that are rapid and unpredictable. A University of Cincinnati team is interviewing the Inupiaq elders and working with them as partners in order to better understand and predict future environmental changes -- for all of us.
The UC Team
Wendy Eisner (geography and women's studies), Chris Cuomo (philosophy and women's studies) and Ken Hinkel (geography) were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study climate and environment on Alaska's North Slope. What makes this project unique is that the three are combining "western" science with the traditional knowledge of the Inupiaq (Eskimo) elders who live in the far North.
"The Inupiaq people (Eskimos) are the indigenous people of the Arctic," explains Eisner. "They live in small villages in the tundra part of northern Alaska. We were looking at the landscape history and landscape changes of the North Slope, especially the thaw lakes of Alaska. Thaw lakes are shallow lakes formed by local thaw action. About 20 percent of the land is covered by thousands of lakes -- the land looks like Swiss cheese or more so!"
Scientists come up several weeks a year to study these lakes. Many social scientists are studying the people. What's unique about the UC project is th
Contact: Wendy Beckman
University of Cincinnati