A significant number of coastal Alaska communities are threatened with erosion, flooding, and the loss of clean water and infrastructure in the next decade due to the amplified effects of climate change in the Arctic. Similar climate changes and their effects are occurring throughout the world. Alaska can serve as a microcosm for coordinated and sustainable energy and infrastructure development for human displacement challenges and resilience worldwide.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a year-long planning grant to develop an Engineering Research Center (ERC) proposal. The ERC will develop integrated solutions for communities threatened and displaced by climate change. The ultimate goal will be to create communities and economies based on sustainable use of local and renewable resources. Key elements of the ERC planning effort and eventual proposal will include workforce development, implementation processes, research, and technology innovation with diverse partners across the state. The university recognizes ongoing efforts around the state to help threatened communities and does not seek to supplant those efforts, but rather, to complement and focus them in a manner that adds value and results in long-term sustainability and new approaches that translate across the country and beyond.
The goal of the NSF ERC Program is to integrate engineering research and education with technological innovation to transform national prosperity, health, and security. ERCs create an innovative, inclusive culture in engineering to cultivate new ideas and pursue engineering discovery that achieves a significant science, technology, and societal outcome within the 10-year timeframe of NSF support. For information on individual ERCs and their achievements, go to: ERC-assoc.org.
The personnel involved with this planning grant are as follows:Principal Investigator: Erin Whitney (UAF)Co-Investigators: Mariko Shirazi (UAF), Pips Veazey (UAF), Margaret Darrow (UAF), Frank Witmer (UAA), Bill Schnabel (UAF)Fellow: Mark Masteller (UAF/Bristol Bay Campus)