Between 2010 and 2012 we documented the climate change impacts being witnessed by residents of Savoonga and Shaktoolik (please see below).  Their local and traditional ecological knowledge of environmental change in the Bering Strait Region is rich, vast, and nuanced in its specificity to their location and region.As published in Ignatowski and Rosales (2014), we documented the following environmental changes related to climate change in a manner that they understand the change:

Sea Ice

Icebergs do not come anymore

Sea Ice:

  • Leaves earlier in the spring
  • Leaves faster when it does leave
  • Not as thick as it once was
  • Less shorefast ice has been observed
  • Less older ice has been observed

Impacts to the Land

The tundra has less snow, tundra lakes are disappearing, and the tundra is breaking away.

Beaches are noticeably narrower, with grain size changing

The permafrost is melting, especially along the coast

The coastline is not as flat as it once was


Weather patterns are changing quickly

Rain storms are longer, with more rain in general

Storms are longer and more dangerous


Spring weather arrives earlier

Summer weather patterns last longer

Fall temperatures last longer

Winter is shorter, with increasing amounts of rain


The ocean has been changing in the following ways:

  • Low tides are not as low
  • High tides are higher
  • More freshwater is entering the ocean
  • Currents are moving faster
  • The ocean is less salty

Rivers have more water and sediment

The Human Community

The weather is becoming increasingly difficult to predict, which makes it difficult for hunters and gatherers to perform subsistence activities.

Increasing storm intensity is causing fear and anxiety, especially in low lying Shaktoolik