Alaska Village Becomes Test Case for Climate Change Relocation

The Yup’ik village of Newtok is the first Alaska community to begin a full-scale relocation necessitated by the impacts of climate change. Another 31 Alaska communities remain vulnerable.

1 minute read

April 23, 2024, 9:00 AM PDT

By urbanguy

Three people, one in fatigues and hard hat, standing in front of bulldozer discussing relocation plans in Newtok, Alaska.

Officials discuss relocation plans in Newtok, Alaska in 2019. | United States Senate - Office of Lisa Murkowski, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons / Newtok, Alaska

The village of Newtok, Alaska, is in the process of relocating to a new village site named Metarvik in what is considered a test case of climate change impacts.  As resident Carolyn George say's, “There is no blueprint on how to do this relocation.  We’re relocating the whole community to a whole different place, and we did not know how to do it. And it’s been taking too long — over 20 years, I think.”

Reporter Yereth Rosen, a reporter with the Alaska Beacon, writes, "While Newtok is the first Alaska village to relocate, others will follow. Even two decades ago, 31 communities were identified as facing imminent threats that would make their locations potentially unlivable in the near future. Of those, nearly half were planning or considering some form of relocation.

Next after Newtok to relocate entirely may be Kivaline, an Inupiat village on the Chukchi Sea coast that is facing numerous climate stressors along with rapid erosion. The community now has a new evacuation road, completed in 2021, that can better enable movement to a new site."

Monday, April 22, 2024 in Alaska Public Media

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