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Thesis defense: cryospheric hazard planning & response

Mar 4, 2020 at 9:00 am10:00 am

Join IARC for Dina Abdel-Fattah’s PhD defense on cryospheric hazard planning and response in Alaska. Dina is advised by Sarah Trainor. Join remotely via Zoom.

Dissertation title:

Stakeholder needs and information use in cryospheric hazard planning and response: case studies from Alaska

Dissertation abstract:

The global cryosphere is experiencing rapid change, which potentially impacts the severity and magnitude of various cryospheric hazards. Alaska is home to a number of different communities that experience cryospheric hazards. These types of hazards can have potentially devastating impacts on surrounding biodiversity, communities, and infrastructure. However, there is a gap in understanding regarding what are stakeholder information needs for different cryospheric hazards, as well as what are the resources stakeholders use to meet these needs. This dissertation investigated stakeholder use of various information products and resources in three cryospheric hazard-prone communities in Alaska, which experience glacial lake outburst flood events (Juneau and the Kenai Peninsula) or anomalous high-speed sea ice motion events (Utqiaġvik). In addition, a clear need exists to understand how further cryosphere change affects cryospheric hazards. Therefore, I tested whether a structured decision-making methodology can be pertinent in a cryospheric hazard context, which has previously never been done before. Specifically, I tested whether structured decision-making can be employed by decision-makers to better understand the planning needs necessary to adequately prepare for future, but uncertain glacial surges from Bering Glacier, Alaska.


I found that identifying distinct stakeholder needs as well as stakeholder use of currently available information products and resources was particularly beneficial for information providers to understand how and why their products and resources are or are not used. This opened up opportunities for existing products to be enhanced or for new products to be developed. However, one of the main findings from the case study research is that there is no single information product that meets all stakeholder needs. Different stakeholders have different information needs, which need to be addressed in different ways. The structured decision-making approach tested in this dissertation was also found to be useful and applicable in a cryospheric hazard context. It can therefore be utilized as a methodological framework by decision-makers to integrate varying stakeholder needs in such a context. The findings from this research provide a unique contribution to the literature by displaying how social science and decision analysis research can support the development of information tools and resources that are both useful and relevant to those affected by cryospheric hazards.


Mar 4, 2020
9:00 am–10:00 am
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Akasofu 401
2160 Koyukuk Dr
Fairbanks, AK 99775 United States