The AMAP Human Health Assessment Group has developed different adaptation strategies through a long-term collaboration with all Arctic countries. Different adaptation strategies are discussed, with examples mainly from native population groups in Alaska.
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James D. Ford is with the Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is with the Department of Community Health, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Susan Chatwood is with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Christopher Furgal is with the Department of Indigenous Environmental Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Sherilee Harper is with the Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario. Ian Mauro is with the Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tristan Pearce is with the University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydor, Queensland, Australia.
Climate change will have far-reaching implications for Inuit health. Focusing on adaptation offers a proactive approach for managing climate-related health risks-one that views Inuit populations as active agents in planning and responding at household, community, and regional levels. Adaptation can direct attention to the root causes of climate vulnerability and emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge regarding environmental change and adaptive strategies. An evidence base on adaptation options and processes for Inuit regions is currently lacking, however, thus constraining climate policy development. In this article, we tackled this deficit, drawing upon our understanding of the determinants of health vulnerability to climate change in Canada to propose key considerations for adaptation decision-making in an Inuit context.
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Climate change has a disproportionally large impact on alpine soil ecosystems, leading to pronounced changes in soil microbial diversity and function associated with effects on biogeochemical processes at the local and supraregional scales. However, due to restricted accessibility, high-altitude soils remain largely understudied and a considerable heterogeneity hampers the comparability of different alpine studies. Here, we highlight differences and similarities between alpine and arctic ecosystems, and we discuss the impact of climatic variables and associated vegetation and soil properties on microbial ecology. We consider how microbial alpha-diversity, community structures and function change along altitudinal gradients and with other topographic features such as slope aspect. In addition, we focus on alpine permafrost soils, harboring a surprisingly large unknown microbial diversity and on microbial succession along glacier forefield chronosequences constituting the most thoroughly studied alpine habitat. Finally, highlighting experimental approaches, we present climate change studies showing shifts in microbial community structures and function in response to warming and altered moisture, interestingly with some contradiction. Collectively, despite harsh environmental conditions, many specially adapted microorganisms are able to thrive in alpine environments. Their community structures strongly correlate with climatic, vegetation and soil properties and thus closely mirror the complexity and small-scale heterogeneity of alpine soils.
The EU EuroClim project developed a system to monitor and record climate change indicator data based on satellite observations of snow cover, sea ice and glaciers in Northern Europe and the Arctic. It also contained projection data for temperature, rainfall and average wind speed for Europe. These were all stored as data sets in a GIS database for users to download. The process of gathering requirements for a user population including scientists, researchers, policy makers, educationalists and the general public is described. Using an iterative design methodology, a user survey was administered to obtain initial feedback on the system concept followed by panel sessions where users were presented with the system concept and a demonstrator to interact with it. The requirements of both specialist and non-specialist users is summarised together with strategies for the effective communication of geographic climate change information.
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a system of ocean currents that has an essential role in Earth's climate, redistributing heat and influencing the carbon cycle1, 2. The AMOC has been shown to be weakening in recent years 1 ; this decline may reflect decadal-scale variability in convection in the Labrador Sea, but short observational datasets preclude a longer-term perspective on the modern state and variability of Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC1, 3-5. Here we provide several lines of palaeo-oceanographic evidence that Labrador Sea deep convection and the AMOC have been anomalously weak over the past 150 years or so (since the end of the Little Ice Age, LIA, approximately AD 1850) compared with the preceding 1,500 years. Our palaeoclimate reconstructions indicate that the transition occurred either as a predominantly abrupt shift towards the end of the LIA, or as a more gradual, continued decline over the past 150 years; this ambiguity probably arises from non-AMOC influences on the various proxies or from the different sensitivities of these proxies to individual components of the AMOC. We suggest that enhanced freshwater fluxes from the Arctic and Nordic seas towards the end of the LIA-sourced from melting glaciers and thickened sea ice that developed earlier in the LIA-weakened Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC. The lack of a subsequent recovery may have resulted from hysteresis or from twentieth-century melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet 6 . Our results suggest that recent decadal variability in Labrador Sea convection and the AMOC has occurred during an atypical, weak background state. Future work should aim to constrain the roles of internal climate variability and early anthropogenic forcing in the AMOC weakening described here.
Recently, there have been several studies using open top chambers (OTCs) or cloches to examine the response of Arctic plant communities to artificially elevated temperatures. Few, however, have investigated multitrophic systems, or the effects of both temperature and vertebrate grazing treatments on invertebrates. This study investigated trophic interactions between an herbivorous insect (Sitobion calvulum, Aphididae), a woody perennial host plant (Salix polaris) and a selective vertebrate grazer (barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis). In a factorial experiment, the responses of the insect and its host to elevated temperatures using open top chambers (OTCs) and to three levels of goose grazing pressure were assessed over two summer growing seasons (2004 and 2005). OTCs significantly enhanced the leaf phenology of Salix in both years and there was a significant OTC by goose presence interaction in 2004. Salix leaf number was unaffected by treatments in both years, but OTCs increased leaf size and mass in 2005. Salix reproduction and the phenology of flowers were unaffected by both treatments. Aphid densities were increased by OTCs but unaffected by goose presence in both years. While goose presence had little effect on aphid density or host plant phenology in this system, the OTC effects provide interesting insights into the possibility of phenological synchrony disruption. The advanced phenology of Salix effectively lengthens the growing season for the plant, but despite a close association with leaf maturity, the population dynamics of the aphid appeared to lack a similar phenological response, except for the increased population observed.
Warming in the Arctic has been much faster than the rest of the world in both observations and model simulations, a phenomenon known as the Arctic amplification (AA) whose cause is still under debate. By analyzing data and model simulations, here we show that large AA occurs only from October to April and only over areas with significant sea-ice loss. AA largely disappears when Arctic sea ice is fixed or melts away. Periods with larger AA are associated with larger sea-ice loss, and models with bigger sea-ice loss produce larger AA. Increased outgoing longwave radiation and heat fluxes from the newly opened waters cause AA, whereas all other processes can only indirectly contribute to AA by melting sea-ice. We conclude that sea-ice loss is necessary for the existence of large AA and that models need to simulate Arctic sea ice realistically in order to correctly simulate Arctic warming under increasing CO2.
An international project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability, climate change, and increased ultraviolet radiation and their consequences.
The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) was prepared in response to a request from the Ministers of the Arctic Council, and is a follow-up to a preliminary evaluation of Arctic climate change issues included in the 1997/98 AMAP assessment.
The objective of the ACIA - as defined in the Arctic Council Ministers 'Barrow Declaration' - was “to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability and change and increased ultraviolet radiation, and support policy-making processes and the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” ACIA should address “environmental, human health, social, cultural, and economic impacts and consequences, including policy recommendations.”
The assessment was produced by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) in collaboration with the Arctic Council's Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group, and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), and was coordinated by AMAP. More than 250 scientists and six circumpolar indigenous peoples’ organisations participated in the ACIA.
ACIA was the first comprehensive multi-disciplinary assessment of the impacts of climate change in the Arctic. As such it represents a baseline for later work (including work under the 2011 Arctic cryospheric change - SWIPA - project coordinated by AMAP).
ACIA was also a milestone in that it was the first Arctic Council assessment to comprehensively include social science as well as natural science components - to assess the imacts of climate change on socio-economic conditions in the Arctic. Results of the ACIA were fed into the IPCC fourth assessment process and were instrumental in raising the profile of Arctic Climate Change issues in the UNFCCC and subsequent IPCC work.