The Challenges of Change


Hi, I'm research scientist Thomas Hill with the ARCSPIN Expedition, and I've been learning so much from the people here in Utqiagvik. They have been gracious hosts and guides to us, and they are easy company with great senses of humor. They tease me about how slowly I drive my quad bike. They are warm people in a cold climate. It seems that whenever possible, even when it's -50 degrees Fahrenheit outside, people head out to the great outdoors to hunt and fish with friends and family, or alone to enjoy the wilderness in peace. If the permafrost below the tundra starts thawing, the pack ice that they use as a fishing/hunting platform starts melting, causing the sea to warm and marine life to change. It will change everything for the people here, because they heavily rely on the tundra and Arctic Ocean.

What makes this environment special or different?:

It seems everything here is unique. Ringing the town is the tundra, a great plain of low marsh and shallow lakes, beautiful on a bright day but wild and bleak when the wind is cutting and making small ripples across the water. The surface is a soaking wet sponge, but only a few inches to a couple of feet down it’s frozen solid. This is the permafrost.