Cornerstone of the AAOKH observing network
Collectively, local observations provide a broad-scale view of changing coastal conditions—and ultimately impacts—at the community scale.
Arctic coastal communities have long recognized that sea ice conditions are not what they once were. The ocean is freezing later in the fall and the ice is melting earlier in the spring, shorefast ice is less stable, there is far less of the thicker multiyear ice than in the past and environmental conditions overall are less predictable.
Daily reports of ice and weather conditions and explanations of local sea ice features and events help improve interpretation of satellite imagery, which can ultimately lead to better ice forecasts and climate models.
What happens to the observations people make?
Search for observations in an online database
From 2016-2018, AAOKH observers contributed over 1,700 observations. These are added to a database curated by the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) program
The database, which includes thousands more observations, is a combination of AAOKH observations and the Seasonal Ice Zone Observing Network (SIZONet) that operated from 2006-2016.
It serves as an interface between the two distinct knowledge systems of western science and local & traditional knowledge. Go to database
View an interactive, online map that shows:
We support local observers in communities across coastal Arctic Alaska. AAOKH’s observers provide regular observations about sea ice, wildlife and coastal waters. They are also trained to use scientific instruments to regularly measure water properties.
In addition to these contributions, AAOKH welcomes volunteer observations from anyone who has environmental information they'd like to share.
2019 observing team
- Billy Adams, Utqiaġvik
- Joe Mello Leavitt, Utqiaġvik
- Guy Omnik, Point Hope
- Steven Patkotak, Wainwright
- Bobby Schaeffer, Kotzebue
- Vince Schaeffer, Kotzebue
- Carla SimsKayotuk, Kaktovik
- Robert Tokeinna Jr., Wales
Locations of observations on sea ice, weather, wildlife, and subsistence activities
Utqiaġvik marine radar
Detects sea ice up to 6 miles out, new image every 5 minutes
Spring whaling trails built by Utqiaġvik crews
Sea ice extent and concentration, including marginal ice zone and fast ice
Sampling locations for water conductivity, temperature, and depth
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image of ice and open water offshore