Environmental Management

, 42:523 | Cite as

The Arctic Water Resource Vulnerability Index: An Integrated Assessment Tool for Community Resilience and Vulnerability with Respect to Freshwater

  • Lilian Alessa
  • Andrew Kliskey
  • Richard Lammers
  • Chris Arp
  • Dan White
  • Larry Hinzman
  • Robert Busey


People in the Arctic face uncertainty in their daily lives as they contend with environmental changes at a range of scales from local to global. Freshwater is a critical resource to people, and although water resource indicators have been developed that operate from regional to global scales and for midlatitude to equatorial environments, no appropriate index exists for assessing the vulnerability of Arctic communities to changing water resources at the local scale. The Arctic Water Resource Vulnerability Index (AWRVI) is proposed as a tool that Arctic communities can use to assess their relative vulnerability–resilience to changes in their water resources from a variety of biophysical and socioeconomic processes. The AWRVI is based on a social–ecological systems perspective that includes physical and social indicators of change and is demonstrated in three case study communities/watersheds in Alaska. These results highlight the value of communities engaging in the process of using the AWRVI and the diagnostic capability of examining the suite of constituent physical and social scores rather than the total AWRVI score alone.


Arctic Freshwater Index Resilience Vulnerability 



We are grateful to the National Science Foundation (OPP Arctic System Science #0327296 and #0328686) for funding this research; the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation. We thank Paula Williams of the Resilience and Adaptive Management Group, University of Alaska Anchorage for assistance with field work, data entry, and literature work. We thank Sean Mack of the Resilience and Adaptive Management Group and the Geographic Information Network of Alaska for assistance with spatial dataset compilation and GIS-based computations. We are grateful for the insightful comments on an earlier version by two anonymous reviewers. We also thank our community collaborators in the communities of Eagle River, Wales and White Mountain, Quyana.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilian Alessa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew Kliskey
    • 1
  • Richard Lammers
    • 3
  • Chris Arp
    • 4
  • Dan White
    • 2
  • Larry Hinzman
    • 5
  • Robert Busey
    • 5
  1. 1.Resilience and Adaptive Management GroupUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Northern EngineeringUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Water Systems Analysis GroupUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  4. 4.United States Geological SurveyAlaska Science CenterAnchorageUSA
  5. 5.International Arctic Research CenterUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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