Published: Sept. 20, 2019
Chinook salmon released into Yukon River in Alaska, USA. Photo: USGS

We are excited to announce a $3M, five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) award to study climate change impacts on Arctic rivers, fish and Native communities. The award is a collaborative project under NSF’s “Navigating the New Arctic” program. 

Principle investigator (PI) Keith Musselman was interviewed for a CU press release about our study. Co-PIs include Mike Gooseff (CU), Josh Koch (USGS), and Nicole Herman-Mercer (USGS). The study will build upon a scientific and educational partnership between CU Boulder and the USGS through CU’s Center for Water, Earth Science and Technology (CWEST).

Scientists and students at CU Boulder, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Northern Arizona University (NAU), University of Saskatchewan, and University of Waterloo will collaborate with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, a non-profit organization of 74 First Nations and Tribes that monitors the Yukon River watershed in Alaska and Canada.   

To quote the press release: “It’s relatively rare for a research project to start with firsthand observations from communities,” said Musselman. “So rather than telling, we’re asking: How do these changes affect you? What would be useful to know? How have you adapted in response? And then we use that info to guide the project and develop ideas together.”

The interdisciplinary team will improve monitoring and modeling of weather, streamflow, river ice and water temperature Alaska and western Canada. The data will be used to create high-resolution models of potential future climate and river conditions to assess vulnerabilities of Arctic river fish species and communities.