Science Spotlight: Research Salon series starts Thursday

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Abraham Endalamaw, left, and Till Baumann, right, discuss plans for the upcoming IARC Research Salon. Mark Melham/ Columnist

George Krinkle / Columnist

Climatic risks are posing a threat to traditional ways of life and native health. The International Arctic Research Center is answering questions at the forefront of research and working to help remote communities being impacted most. While the center generally focuses on hard scientific questions and their technical answers, they now hope to connect the science to basic, real-life climate issues.

To showcase these issues and get the UAF community more involved, the center is having its first Research Salon of the school year Oct. 6 at noon. Research Assistants Abraham Endalamaw and Till Baumann organized the event and hope it will bring together different scientific fields to provide answers for questions about climatic threats in the remote parts of the state, where impacts are greater on people.

Baumann believes the series acts as a means of engaging an audience with questions about their local environments.

“The main interest is to connect the dots between the science and real-life impacts,” Baumann said. “Many physical climate researchers are trying to connect their results to the impacts on people living here. Health is one of those impacts.”

To connect those dots, the pair is bringing together a climate expert, a social health expert and an expert at the interface. Each expert will give a brief background of their work, then the floor opens to the audience and their questions.

John Walsh, the climate expert on the panel as well as Arctic Research Center president, mentioned concerns over invasive species, compromised water sources, wildfire threats and risks to subsistence food sources.

“Some notable health risks that I see are invasive species, including
harmful algal blooms that are temperature-sensitive. These are
already posing risks to marine food sources in the waters around southern Alaska,” Walsh wrote regarding climate-related issues Alaskans face.

This means that rising temperatures in the arctic could lead to algal bloom expansion in more northern waters, impacting subsistence fishing in the communities that rely on it. With cascading elements complicating the issues, a forum like this one can bring clarity.

People who are interested can attend the Salon at noon on Thursday, Oct. 6 in 401 Akasofu. The series recurs monthly with a new topic each time, with additional salons happening this November and December.

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