Pursuing Opportunities for Long-Term Arctic Resilience for Infrastructure and Society

Project team in Dillingham in February 2020.

About the Project

How do environmental changes impact social well-being, the subsistence way of life, and community infrastructure in Arctic Alaska?

We seek to understand how communities in Arctic Alaska are affected by environmental hazards and risks, including coastal erosion and flooding, declining sea ice cover, and changes in the availability and access to wild resources.

  • Funding: National Science Foundation
  • Duration: January 2020 – December 2023
  • Outreach: We will visit Dillingham and Wainwright in 2020 to discuss the project, request approval, and consult with communities about what they would like the project to focus on. We will hire local researchers and support them throughout the project.
  • Personnel: Researchers from the University of Alaska, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan Technological University, Alaska state agencies, and others

Team contacts

Activities and products

Document impacts of environmental change on food security and migration. Create a coastal hazard assessment, as well as maps identifying high-risk areas, to share with communities.

Recommend policies and strategies to adapt to environmental changes and declining ecosystem services, while building sustainable community resilience.

Develop a virtual museum of local geography, landscape, and cultural way of life consisting of a full length film, short films, podcasts, and 360° photos that tell the story of resilience from the community perspective.

Photo: Ice cellar at Wainwright, AK. (credit: USGS)


The success of POLARIS relies on collaboration with local communities throughout the entire project. A locally hired researcher will lead local efforts.

Work with local stakeholders, community members, and researchers to learn about the consequences of environmental changes and identify place-based solutions that enable greater resilience and potential adaptation strategies.

Work with local teachers to develop materials to engage K-12 students in understanding the social and environmental impacts of climate change and ways of building community resilience.

Photo: Aerial view of Dillingham, AK. (US Army Corps of Engineers)

POLARIS wants to help Arctic Alaska communities become more resilient to environmental change.