Integrated Climate Adapatation & Resilience Impact Statement (ICARIS)

Two Bears Environmental Consulting, LLC (TBEC) used the SBIR NSF Phase I grant to develop the proof of concept for creating Climate Impact Statements and Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Impact Statements. The CIS(TM) primarily evaluates the risks to infrastructure and lifelines and provides potential adaptation strategies to reduce the economic effects. ICARIS(TM) builds on the CIS(TM) by including the social, ecological, and cultural vulnerabilities based on Traditional Knowledge and community societal concerns. Both provide meaningful and actionable data for future climate risk assessments in a visually understandable manner. Alaskan Native Tribal Chiefs, Elders, Administrators, Councils, and community members are offered potential impacts of futures climates on the biophysical and socioeconomic processes in the context of their lifestyles and cultures. They are provided tools to preview what the future may look like in 10, 50, or 100 years to choose the actions they would like to take today to adapt and maintain their culture for future generations. 

The ICARIS(TM) compares historical processes (e.g., flooding, erosion, drought, food security, public health, etc.) with the changes in future processes so villagers can better understand their climate risks, including the ‘no-action’ option. The ICARIS(TM) is adaptive, comparing the ability of potential management strategies to reduce risks; the benefits associated with each action can be evaluated separately and cumulatively, as well as the success of each action. For example, did the action reduce the magnitude and timing of the targeted climate hazard to the degree expected? Were conditions improved to a level greater than baseline, if that was the expectation? ICARIS(TM) is a living document, changing as community objectives shift and as new data is available. It is an interactive process to bring stakeholders together, and to increase the understanding of climate risks and hazards, generate discussion, and develop a plan forward to increase community resilience. The villages cannot reduce the probability of a flood event, but they can reduce the flood’s impact by raising homes above the expected flood levels. Not only does the ICARIS(TM) support comparisons between potential options, but it is also a quick visual to demonstrate what processes are being impacted between communities, enabling between-community comparisons. ICARIS(TM) gives Native Alaskans a voice and a role in taking control of their futures, empowering community members to be proactive instead of reactive in planning for climate change.

Because Alaska’s environment is changing and projected to continue to change, planning and adaptation for environmental change are necessary to reduce community vulnerability. Meeting this challenge will broaden the impacts of climate science in highly visible and societally relevant ways. The complexity of predicted environmental changes, combined with the accelerated loss of traditional ways of living and increased industrial activities, called for developing an integrated scheme that links local policymakers, scientists, and stakeholders. To be efficient and relevant, any plan to reduce climate risks must actively engage the affected community members, with project outcomes accessible to the Alaskan communities themselves. Such mainstreaming of adaptation policies by Alaskans for Alaska is possibly one of the most effective approaches to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate change and its related threats.  Developing the ICARIS(TM) in Alaska helps mitigate social inequity as the climate hazards disproportionally affect small, impoverished native Alaskan villages.  

More exciting updates to come! Please come back to see our ICARIS(TM) take off!

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