SEARCH Syntheses Underway: Bringing together What We Know about Changes in the Arctic

SEARCH is a complex collaboration of 50 Indigenous Knowledge holders, scientists, & decision makers co-producing solutions to problems that people face as the Arctic environment changes rapidly. We operate with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs.

Our premise is that meeting the profound challenges of rapid environmental change requires decisions informed or driven by the collective knowledge of Indigenous and scientific experts and delivered in manners appropriate to diverse decision makers. Collaborating across such diverse ways of knowing is not for the faint hearted; and we are certainly learning as we go.

SEARCH is organized into three co-production teams, each exploring consequences of environmental Arctic change for people. These three teams have worked over the last two years to co-produce policy-relevant questions for which decision makers need holistic understanding.

Out of this work has come 12 different synthesis working groups. Each working group brings together Indigenous, scientific, and decision making knowledge holders to address a community or societal concern, to co-produce shared understanding, and to co-design equitable, effective solutions.

Listen below as science director and principal investigator Brendan Kelly shares in under three minutes SEARCH’s approach to co-production, and keep scrolling to hear more from SEARCH team members and co-chairs about syntheses underway.

How does SEARCH synthesize across ways of knowing?

Each synthesis will point to solutions and be shared with diverse decision makers. We emphasize that the way we share results has to take into account the communication style and needs of each audience.

Brendan Kelly


by Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf, Eskimo Walrus Commission

Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf discusses siku and its essential role in Yupik culture.

Siku, sea ice, remains the most significant and powerful presence in our relationship with our world living in the Arctic.

Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf

Listen to Vera and SEARCH team member Gifford Wong speak more about working across disciplines and languages to reach shared understanding in “How Do We Know When—and If—We’re Saying the Same Thing?“, episode two of the SEARCH podcast.

How do changes in sea ice impact seasonal subsistence?

by Marika Holland, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Marika Holland shares how SEARCH asks policy-relevant questions and synthesizes across disciplines and ways of knowing.

Ultimately, by synthesizing this information within a co-production framework, we expect to better understand what adaptive measures are working, possible support mechanisms to expand the use of these measures, and how these measures may be affected by future environmental change.

SEARCH synthesis working group, Seasonal Subsistence & Sea Ice Changes

Listen to Marika speak more about her work as a climate modeler with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in “When Code Comes Alive,” episode four of the SEARCH podcast.

What is the Hunter Support Program and how does it work?

by Cyrus Harris, Maniilaq Association

Cyrus Harris shares how the Hunter Support Program provides traditional foods to Elders.

The most important thing that I ask is that we make the seal oil the same way we’ve been making it for all for thousands of years.

Cyrus Harris

Listen to Cyrus Harris speak more about his work with food scientists and Maniilaq coworkers in “Our Garden Is the Tundra,” episode six of the SEARCH podcast.

How accessible will walruses be in the future?

There are important, ongoing research projects on the population biology of Pacific walrus and their role in the ecosystem, but those topics are not sufficient to address a vital concern of 27 Indigenous communities in Alaska and Siberia who depend on the harvest of walruses.

SEARCH synthesis working group, Walrus Accessibility

What do we need to create sustainable energy economies in rural Alaska?

by Qaulluq Cravalho, NANA and Matt Heavner, Dept. of Energy & Los Alamos National Lab

[SEARCH has] been leading a discussion to co-produce an understanding of the economics of energy in rural Alaska and then to identify solutions to ensure reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy for rural Alaska.

Qaulluq Cravalho & Matt Heavner, SEARCH Arctic energy synthesis group

To learn more about the latest from SEARCH, check out our Highlights. To join our open discussions, consider coming along to our reading & integration groups.