This week, we’re headed north to Barrow, Alaska for a couple of climate change hacks with local communities.

We’ll be asking how local experience of conditions etc. and the kind of global data science collects and analyses can help each other.

iceWe’ll be working with Diana Mastracci Sanchez, a young researcher at ExCites centre at UCL, whose PhD project looks at how ICT can help local indigenous arctic communities. She has already spent a lot of time in Siberia. This year she’s looking at communities on the North Slope. You can find out more about her project here.

Our hacks in Barrow will be new territory for us. At our citizen science hacks, we’ve so far been taking what I think of as the vanilla science hack day approach—we set up a bunch of challenges running up to the hack, then award prizes to the best challenge team. Diana has asked us to think about empowering local communities that may not have a high level of hacking skills. So, instead of assuming as we usually do that everyone at the hack is already a mobile geek, we’ll be teaching basic hacking skills for micro controllers, mobile and web tools as part of a STEM summer camp.

Our hope is to build the basis for a local hacker/maker community that will go on to start their own citizen science projects. One of the reasons we think this might work is that climate change has been having a dramatic impact on the local community. Because of an ever shrinking ice cover, every year more and more hunters get trapped out on the ice. The image above shows an incident this Spring in which a large piece of ice broke loose, trapping several hunters who then had to be rescued. Connecting local experience to global data could bring big gains both in data validation and local impact and problem solving.

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