New report series aims to help Alaska’s Arctic decision-making

Maureen Biermann

January 20, 2023

The University of Alaska today released the first in a series of informational reports designed to aid state leaders as Alaska confronts a rapidly changing Arctic and the increasingly globalized North.

The initial Alaska’s Changing Arctic report focuses on energy issues most likely to require action by the Alaska Legislature in the near future.

The university plans to produce a new report annually, each focusing on a key Arctic issue and tailored to the most pressing needs of the state at the time. University experts will not make recommendations in the reports, instead leaving that task to policymakers. 

As a global leader in Arctic research, policy development and leadership, the university system is uniquely positioned to provide essential information to the state's leaders and all Alaskans,” said UA President Pat Pitney. “This report, representing the breadth and depth of our Arctic expertise, illustrates how we can support state interests and policy initiatives, such as infrastructure and energy sustainability."

The Board of Regents has made the Arctic a critical focus for the university system.

The Alaska’s Changing Arctic reports will provide Alaskans with accessible, concise and comprehensive information about relevant Arctic issues. 

Each of the reports will focus on a single general topic and will cover the central elements from an Arctic perspective. Reader-friendly charts and maps will provide additional information.

The foundation for the reports is the state’s Arctic Policy Act of 2015, which lays out four priorities. The 32-page report released today focuses on energy and addresses the first of those priorities: “promoting economic and resource development.” 

The report covers these energy topics:

  • The history of Alaska’s reliance on oil and the boom-bust impact on the state’s economy
  • How Alaska currently produces energy and has become an expert in cold climate renewables and microgrids
  • Energy infrastructure planning under rapidly changing environmental conditions
  • Current competition and cooperation in the international Arctic energy regime

“This University of Alaska report provides a timely overview of trends and issues affecting energy production and use in the state,” said Hajo Eicken, director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center.

“Most importantly, the contributing experts from across the university provide depth and context,” he said. “Context matters in this case, since Alaska sits at the juncture of major environmental, economic and geopolitical trends, from the local to the global scale.”

Alaskans need clear information to make sound policy decisions, said Amy Lauren Lovecraft, director of the Center for Arctic Policy Studies at UAF.

“If Alaskans develop our Arctic policies in state, where we have the most knowledge of our changing environments and human needs, the resulting energy policy can be more effective than waiting for federal regulations or reacting to disastrous events,” she said.

This first report is a collaboration among the University of Alaska system office, the University of Alaska Southeast, the University of Alaska Anchorage and the UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, including the Center for Arctic Policy Studies, the International Arctic Research Center, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power and the Department of Political Science.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Heather McFarland, International Arctic Research Center, 907-474-6286, Amy Lovecraft, 907-474-2688,