This summer, Alaska’s high temperatures broke records causing more Alaskans than ever to experience the effects of widespread wildfires. Wildfires, along with unstable permafrost, and rain-in-winter are natural hazards of climate change that put residents and property at risk. Assessing the costs, risks, and actions necessary to adapt to or mitigate damage from these hazards in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon, is the subject of a newly funded 4-year, $1.1 million National Science Foundation project, led by ISER’s Jennifer Schmidt.

The project is an extension of work Dr. Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Natural Resources Management, has been doing with rural communities to determine how residents adapt to and respond to their surrounding social and environment atmosphere including finding sustainable sources of food, fuel, and water, as well as making recommendations to reduce the risk of wildfires in Southcentral Alaska. All of Dr. Schmidt’s projects are collaborations with researchers throughout the University of Alaska system and outside.

In her newest project, an interdisciplinary research team of economists, environmental scientists, and policy experts will work with partners that include the Municipality of Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the City of Whitehorse. What makes this project special is that researchers will be assessing not only the public, but private infrastructure risks and costs. To get this information and develop mitigation strategies, the project will include input from non-governmental organizations including Indigenous groups and insurance companies.

ISER’s Matthew Berman, Tobias Schwoerer, Kevin Berry, Brett Watson, and Kyle Borash are also working on this project.