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Environment

Environmental stories in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Jasmine Gil examines a tussock from a partially drained lake that was removed by a muskox using the area as a sanctuary to cool down from the summer heat.
Courtesy of Heidi Steltzer, Fort Lewis College.

Note: This article was updated on Friday, October 27 at 3:54 p.m. with further reporting.

Yup'ik leaders and Western scientists are both trying to figure out how climate change could impact communities, but the two groups often struggle to work together. Bethel’s Jasmine Gil is doing her part to bridge that cultural divide.


Newtok has already lost several buildings to erosion.
Christine Trudeau/KYUK

Last week’s storms took away another chunk of the eroding village of Newtok. 

The weather system may bring flooding to low-lying villages.
Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

Another fall storm brewed near the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta yesterday, its strong winds and high tides threatening coastal communities. According to the National Weather Service, gale-force winds from the Southwest may contribute to minor flooding, beach erosion, and rough surf, particularly along the coast from Goodnews Bay to Kipnuk.

Fall storms are flooding the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s tributaries and eroding its shorelines.
Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

Fall storms are flooding the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s tributaries and eroding its shorelines, although the weather system has yet to threaten any homes.

Southwest Alaska will experience heavy rains throughout the week.
Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

Kuskokwim Bay villages were battered by an autumn storm that intensified Wednesday night, and lasted through Thursday. Local leaders in Kwigillingok, Kongiganak, and Kipnuk reported strong winds in the region. “My house was shaking,” said Roland Andrew, Kongiganak’s Tribal Administrator, with a laugh. “My family was kind of freaked!” Particularly, he said, his grandchildren.

As the permafrost thaws, Kongiganak's cemetery is turning into swampland. Community members are now laying their loved ones to rest on raised platforms above ground.
Teresa Cotsirilos/KYUK

On a crisp day in September, the village of Kongiganak, or Kong, filed into a little white church and laid Maggie Mary Otto to rest.


An image of Newtok's shoreline. In addition to increased erosion, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta may experience warmer winters and increased rainfall as the planet warms.
COURTESY OF LEMAY ENGINEERING AND CONSULTING, INC.

If you’re living in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta a hundred years from now, it’s going to be hot and wet. That’s according to a new study by scientists at the International Arctic Research Center, an institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Emperor goose in Gibson Cove.
CREDIT LISA HUPP / U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE

The Arctic Council Working Group on Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, or CAFF, wrapped up their second, and final, day of meetings at the Bethel Cultural Center yesterday. Representatives from six indigenous groups and eight Arctic countries are measuring the impact of climate change on circumpolar wildlife.

Dancers from the Kuskokwim Learning Academy perform for representatives of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna on Thursday, September 7.
Teresa Cotsirilos/KYUK

Yesterday, a global team of indigenous leaders, scientists, and wildlife managers gathered at Bethel’s Cultural Center to discuss climate change’s growing impact on the Arctic’s plants and animals.

Officials from all eight Arctic nations will attend a meeting in Bethel on September 6 and 7, which will focus on conserving and managing Arctic plants and animals.
U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 6 and 7, Bethel will be the site of an international gathering of wildlife managers, scientists, and indigenous groups talking about the changing plants and animals of the circumpolar Arctic and what the Arctic Council can do to help manage them. 

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