Arctic Costal Risk

Mission and Vision

Convergence of natural science, social science, and indigenous knowledge to define and communicate Arctic coastal risk

The mission of the Arctic Coastal Risk Network is to facilitate collaboration and convergence of research on Arctic coastal hazards/risks, welcoming contributions from natural sciences, social sciences, and coastal community members. Our two main activities in support of the mission are (1) the development of the network (via website and outreach), and (2) the demonstration project on how (a) to define and communicate coastal risk, (b) how to determine community knowledge, preferences and values, and (c) how to make decisions under uncertainty.


  • engage local communities and interdisciplinary researchers
  • advance the science of coastal hazards and infrastructure vulnerability forecasting
  • integrate human dimensions research related to adaptation
  • improve data quality, quantity, and availability
  • assist local communities in achieving their adaptation goals through community-driven holistic approaches, and
  • create partnerships with local communities that are based on mutual respect for multiple ways of knowing, cultural values and perspectives.


  • assess local needs
  • incubate research projects to fill knowledge gaps
  • create research partnerships
  • learn from each other by sharing knowledge and information
  • mitigate short-term risk
  • improve long-term adaptation outcomes

Gaps to fill

There is a fundamental lack of understanding of arctic coastal processes and arctic coastal hazards. For example, in the recent PNAS study to forecast the cost of damage to Alaska public infrastructure, it is evident that there is a lack of a credible standard for forecasting coastal erosion in Arctic settings. As a result, there is uncertainty about infrastructure vulnerability and resilience opportunity. The lack of fundamental understanding results from insufficient resources (technical people, instrumentation, funds) to develop the understanding.

There is a lack of good quality data including observations and monitoring of the changes taking place. As a consequence, it is difficult to develop improved methods of coastal hazards forecasting important to community well-being and adaptation.

Historically there has been limited participation of local indigenous communities in climate-change science. Also, the knowledge of local communities is not well leveraged for understanding and responding to the challenges coastal communities face. This leads to poor communication and information exchange between communities in peril, scientists, and government agencies.

There continues to be lack of integration and understanding between indigenous and western perspectives on coastal hazards, disaster response and pro-active adaptation planning in the context of local livelihoods and local relationships to the land.

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