Alaska Sea Grant fellow helps develop state’s new climate policy


The building that once housed Golovin’s fish processing plant was functional until 2012, but gradual erosion of the coastline has damaged its foundation to the point where it is no longer usable. Photo by Lauren Frisch.

America’s only arctic state is profoundly feeling the impacts of climate change. Villages like Shishmaref, Kivalina and Newtok are seeing their shorelines crumble into the ocean and have developed plans to relocate. Dozens of others are threatened by coastal erosion and flooding, increasing storm severity, disappearing sea ice, rising ocean levels, melting permafrost and other impacts.

At the recent 51st Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said while Newtok, Kivalina and Shishmaref are often in the spotlight because of climate change, “almost every village faces a similar impact.”

Murkowski said it’s time for Alaska to take action to confront climate change and help state residents adapt.

“Climate change is real,” Murkowski said.

Also attending AFN was Danielle Meeker, one of Alaska Sea Grant’s State Fellowship recipients, who is helping to craft a new climate policy for the state of Alaska. Serving in the Office of Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, Meeker works under the supervision of Mallott’s senior climate advisor Nikoosh Carlo, an arctic policy specialist and neuroscientist from Fairbanks and Tanana.

Since July when her fellowship began, Meeker has focused on engaging a variety of stakeholders, including agencies, tribes, NGOs and industry, to come up with an action plan that will help Alaska adapt to climate change impacts.

During a break at the AFN conference, Meeker explained how the governor’s office is approaching its soon-to-be-released climate strategy.

Meeker said she expects the new policy to be unveiled in November. A graduate of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Meeker will complete her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship in July 2018.

— By Paula Dobbyn