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Losing Newtok: A Story of Climate Change in Alaska

December 6, 2017

Imagine leaving your town and wondering if it will still be there when you return. That disturbing scenario is the reality for some 450 residents of Newtok, Alaska, as the permafrost beneath the village continues to melt due to climate change and coastal erosion proceeds at a rapid pace. While it appears there is no way to avoid the eventual loss of Newtok, efforts are under way to preserve the community’s way of life, as residents relocate to more solid ground upriver. The village’s relocation coordinator, Romy Cadiente, shares the story of what climate change is doing to Newtok and its people and describes the challenges involved in moving an entire community. He is joined by Wilson Center Polar Initiative Director Mike Sfraga for this special edition of Wilson Center NOW.


Romy Cadiente serves as relocation coordinator for the village of Newtok, Alaska.

Mike Sfraga is director of the Wilson Center’s Polar Initiative.


John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. 

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Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more