Climate change health assessment: a novel approach for Alaska Native communities

Article English OPEN
Brubaker, Michael Y. ; Bell, Jacob N. ; Berner, James E. ; Warren, John A. (2012)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v70i3.17820
  • Subject: Indigenous, Arctic, climate change, Alaska Natives, health assessment

Objectives. Develop a process for assessing climate change impacts on public health that identifies climate-health vulnerabilities and mechanisms and encourages adaptation. Study design. Multi-stakeholder, participatory, qualitative research. Methods. A Climate Change Health Assessment (CCHA) was developed that involved 4 steps: (1) scoping to describe local conditions and engage stakeholders; (2) surveying to collect descriptive and quantitative data; (3) analysis to evaluate the data; and (4) planning to communicate findings and explore appropriate actions with community members. The health effects related to extreme weather, thinning ice, erosion, flooding, thawing permafrost and changing conditions of water and food resources were considered. Results. The CCHA process was developed and performed in north-west Arctic villages. Refinement of the process took place in Point Hope, a coastal Inupiat village that practices whaling and a variety of other traditional subsistence harvest practices. Local observers identified climate change impacts that resulted in damaged health infrastructure, compromised food and water security and increased risk of injury. Priority health issues included thawing traditional ice cellars, diminished quality of the community water source and increased safety issues related to sea ice change. The CCHA increased awareness about health vulnerability and encouraged informed planning and decision-making. Conclusion. A community-scale assessment process guided by observation-based data can identify climate health impacts, raise awareness and encourage adaptive actions, thereby improving the response capacity of communities vulnerable to climate change.(Int J Circumpolar Health 2011; 70(3):266-273)Keywords: Indigenous, Arctic, climate change, Alaska Natives, health assessment
  • References (25)
    25 references, page 1 of 3

    1.  Fussel  HM,  Klein  RJT,  Ebi  KL.  Adaptation  assessment  for  public  health.  In:  Menne  B,  Ebi  KL,  editors.  Climate  change  and  adaptation  strategies  for  human  health. Germany:  Steinkopff  Verlag,  Darmstadt  on  behalf  of  WHO; 2006.  p.  41-62.

    2.  Confalonieri  U,  Menne  B,  Akhtar  R,  Ebi  KL,  Hauengue  M,  Kovats  RS,  et  al.  Human  health.  Climate  change  2007:  impacts,  adaptation  and  vulnerability.  Contribution  of  Working  Group  II  to  the  Fourth  Assessment  Report  of  the  Intergovernmental  Panel  on  Climate  Change.Cambridge,  UK:  Cambridge  University  Press;  2007. p.  391-431.

    3 .  Huntington  H ,  Fox  S .  The  changing  Arctic :  Indigenous  perspectives .  In :  Symon  C , Arris  L ,  Heal  B ,  editors . Arctic  Climate  Impact  Assessment  -  Scienticfi   report .  New  York :  Cambridge  University  Press ;  2005 .  p.  61-98.

    4.  Alaska  Native  Epidemiology  Center.  Alaska  Native  health  status  report.  Anchorage,  AK:  Alaska  Native  Tribal Health Consortium;  2009.     p. 6-7.

    5.  Goldsmith  S,  Angvik  J,  Howe  L,  Hill  A,  Leask  L.  The  status  of  Alaska  Natives  report  2004.  Anchorage,  AK:  University  of  Alaska,  Anchorage  Institute  for  Social  and  Economic Research (ISER);  2004. p. 2.

    6.  Alaska  Climate  Research  Center.  Temperature  Change  in  Alaska.  Fairbanks:  Geophysical  Institute,  University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks;  2009  [cited  2011  June  15].  Available  from: Change/TempChange.html.

    7.  Berner  J,  Furgal  C.  Human  health.  In:  Symon  C,  Arris  L,  Heal  B,  editors.  Arctic  Climate  Impact  Assessment  -  Scientific   report.  New  York:  Cambridge  University  Press; 2005.  p.  863-906.

    8.  McLaughlin  JB,  DePaola  A,  Bopp  CA,  Martinek  KA,  Napolilli  NP,  Allison  CG,  et  al.  Outbreak  of  vibrio  parahaemolyticus  gastroenteritis  associated  with  Alaskan  oysters. N Engl J Med 2005;353(14):1463-1470.

    9.  Kraemer  L,  Berner  J,  Furgal  C.  The  potential  impact  of  climate  on  human  exposure  to  contaminants  in  the  Arctic. Int J Circumpolar Health 2005;64(5):498-508.

    10.  NOAA.  Arctic  Report  Card  2010.  National  Atmospheric and Oceanic  Administration; 2010 [cited 2011  June  15].  Available  from:

  • Similar Research Results (3)
  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark