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Publication Date
8 January 2024

Can Earth System Models inform key dimensions of Arctic marine food security?

Our food security indicators illustrate how model output can be combined with relevant, non-model, information sources.
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We explored the potential of Earth System Model output in helping anticipate or project physical or ecosystem changes relevant to Indigenous peoples' food security as defined by the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska (ICC-AK). Through examples of model products, that provide measures of accessibility and availability of marine resources, we show that modern models, such as DOE’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model, can provide estimates of a broad suite of variables relevant to food security. Whether such output is relevant in any planning or decision-making context remains to be explored.


Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ food sovereignty is tightly linked with food security. Climate change is causing rapid and more unpredictable shifts in environmental conditions that impact three of the key aspects of food security defined by ICC-AK: availability, stability, and accessibility. Communities monitor the abundance and health of food webs and the environment as part of subsistence harvest practices. However, anticipating major transformations and changes in these systems is challenging and insights from model predictions may prove useful.


We investigated how Earth System Model output could contribute to exploring questions related to aspects of Arctic food security such as accessibility and availability. We highlight present model shortcomings that, if addressed, would move Earth System Models closer to being a useful tool for understanding environmentally driven changes to harvestable food resources. Our proposed model-derived food security indicators illustrate how output from the DOE’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) could be combined with other relevant information sources. These model products are a starting point,  a tool for engaging community members that present, in an accessible way, the model's potential utility, or current lack thereof, to rights holders and stakeholders concerned about food security. We are hopeful that with example products in hand, additional model development efforts will have a higher likelihood of success in achieving an iterative discussion with stakeholders regarding feasible and desired products.

Point of Contact
Georgina Gibson
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Funding Program Area(s)