Arctic & Antarctica
Map of the Bering Sea region. The red dots show the locations of the communities where the workshop participants live. Image via NOAA.

AK - Bering Sea Elders discuss recent changes in the Arctic

For the first time, indigenous communities living around the Bering Sea were invited to share their perspectives of the changing Arctic for the 2019 edition of NOAA’s annual Arctic Report Card.

Over the past 2 1/2 decades, as greenhouse gas emissions have continued to soar, the Arctic has warmed about twice as much as global temperatures, according to NOAA’s 2019 Arctic Report Card. This phenomenon, termed Arctic amplification, is having dramatic effects on the region.

In September 2019, for the first time during the preparation of the annual report, members of indigenous communities were invited to share their experiences of the changes taking place in the Arctic. The participants came from eight communities located in the Bering Sea region, and the stories they told are harrowing.

The loss of sea ice is perhaps one of the starkest consequences of climate change. In their contribution to the Arctic Report Card, the Bering Sea Elders noted:

In the northern Bering Sea, sea ice used to be present with us for eight months a year. Today, we may only see three or four months with ice. We are used to generally assessing our ice thickness in feet, but now we are often looking at inches, even in the middle of winter.

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