Infrastructure

"Infrastructure" refers to structures that are used for the operation of communities and other organizations. Examples of infrastructure include buildings, roads, airports, and power supplies. The following issues and responses show how climate change can impact infrastructure.

Climate Change Issues

Response

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In Newtok, Alaska, community members are concerned about erosion, rising water levels and thawing of permafrost that is causing the land to sink, all of which are greatly impacting the village. The people of Newtok took steps to relocate their village on higher, more stable ground. website
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D'Oro, R. (May 15, 2010). Slowly, Newtok prepares to escape erosion. Anchorage Daily News: Anchorage, Alaska.
Erosion of coastline, melting permafrost and increased wave action from lack of sea ice is deteriorating Shishmaref, AK. The people of Shishmaref have taken steps to relocate their village.
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Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition. (2006). Relocation and Erosion Concerns: Shishmaref, AK. In Arctic Alaska, the Warming Climate Threatens an Ancient Culture. AAAS.
Erosion of shoreline is impacting the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in Northwestern Canada. Stone breakwalls and gravel have been placed on the shoreline to alleviate erosion from wave action. website
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Nickels, S. et al. Putting the Human Face on Climate Change Through Community Workshops: Inuit Knowledge, Partnerships, and Research. In Krupnik and Jolly, The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change. p. 323
Warmer temperatures are making traditional ways of smoking fish more difficult for the people of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in Northwestern Canada. People are building thicker roofs on smoke houses and using tarps and other materials to protect fish from heat. website
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Nickels, S. et al. Putting the Human Face on Climate Change Through Community Workshops: Inuit Knowledge, Partnerships, and Research. In Krupnik and Jolly, The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change. p. 323
Thawing permafrost is impacting roads and other infrastructure in Alaska. Recommends the use of projections from Global Circulation Models (GCMs) in decision making process. Recommends more environmental monitoring. website
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Smith, O.P., & Levasseur, G. (n.d.) Impacts of climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure in Alaska. The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation. US Department of Transportation.
Coastal erosion is impacting the village of Kivalina, AK. Kivalina is looking to relocate the village.  
Coastal erosion is impacting the village of Shaktoolik, AK. Shaktoolik is posibly looking to relocate. Identified responses include the creation of an emergency evacuation route during storms and the placement of a breakwater or other method for controlling erosion. website
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Kawerak Incorporated. (2006). Shaktoolik Local Economic Development Plan 2006-2011. Kizzia, T. (2008). State begins planning to rescue villages from the sea. Anchorage Daily News.
Water temperatures are increasing the likelihood of wildfire around the village of Huslia, AK. Fire is being used to reduce fuel load of potential fire around the village.
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Huntington, O. Traditional/local Knowledge and Community Sustainability at Huslia on the Koyukuk. Alaska Native Science Commission.
Less permafrost encourages more erosion along the riverbank in Huslia, AK. People in Huslia work together to move buildings and belongings further away from the river bank.
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Huntington, O. Traditional/local Knowledge and Community Sustainability at Huslia on the Koyukuk. Alaska Native Science Commission.
Less permafrost encourages more erosion along the riverbank in Huslia, AK. Trees and brush are roped to the bank to slow the river current.
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Huntington, O. Traditional/local Knowledge and Community Sustainability at Huslia on the Koyukuk. Alaska Native Science Commission. .
In Point Hope, AK, a rise in sea level is leading to more erosion and more risk of flooding. As a result, residents are concerned about damage to buildings and roads, as well as safety in extreme conditions. A study identifies a flood study with climate predictions as a possible adaptation. Another possible adaptation is to include flood protection for buildings.
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Center for climate and Health. (October 2009). Draft Final: Climate change and health impacts Point Hope, Alaska. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
In Point Hope, AK, delayed shore ice, thawing permafrost, and storms are causing more erosion. This could lead to more damage to buildings, roads, and cellars. A study identifies shore and river monitoring and erosion prevention as possible adaptations.
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Center for climate and Health. (October 2009). Draft Final: Climate change and health impacts Point Hope, Alaska. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Warmer temperatures are leading to longer periods of unfrozen sloughs. In a study of villages on the lower Yukon River, an identified adaptation was to build bridges over unfrozen sloughs.
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Carey, E. (2009). Building resilience to climate change in rural Alaska: understanding impacts, adaptation, and the role of TEK. A practicum. University of Michigan.
Airports and runways built on permafrost will see permafrost degradation. More money will need to be spent and more labor will be needed to maintain airports and runways.
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Alaska State Legislature, (March 17, 2008). Final commission report: Alaska climate impact assessment commission.Juneau, Alaska.
Thawing permafrost causes settlement of foundations. More repairs, relocation and complete replacements of infrastructure to new sites will need to happen. website
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Larsen, P., Goldsmith, S., Smith, O., Wilson, M., Strzepek, K., Chinowsky, P., Saylor, B. (June 2007). Estimating future costs for Alaska public infrastructure at risk from climate change. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage.