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Nordic Centre of Excellence ARCPATH

Financed by the Joint Nordic Initiative on Arctic Research.

The Arctic is of fundamental importance in the climate system because of the key atmospheric and oceanic feedbacks that occur here. Added to this, global warming has caused intense changes in Arctic climate, with a rise in temperatures during recent years that is close to twice that of other regions. These rapid changes are a challenge to communities already at risk from many other aspects that have to do with society as whole, in particular with regard to economic and political factors, as well as climatic effects. Loss of sea ice is particularly relevant, with a direct and immediate effect on Arctic communities, in the form of potential increased shipping (and attendant risks) as well as the complex issues involved in Arctic oil and gas exploration, together with effects on fisheries and marine mammals. The project will address these issues by focusing on changes that will happen in the near future, with the overarching goal of fostering responsible and sustainable development. As well as considering specific aspects of climate and sea-ice changes, the project will focus on socio-economic changes in specific coastal communities in Iceland, Greenland and northern Norway. The project thus needs to take into account both natural and social science perspectives, with expertise drawn from the fields of: climatology; environmental studies; marine and fisheries biology; fisheries management; anthropology; governance systems; and human ecology. The project will focus on knowledge gaps in: 1) improving Arctic climate prediction by reducing uncertainties originating from changes in sea ice and the ocean; 2) increasing understanding and reducing uncertainties regarding how changes in climate interact with many factors relating to local communities, including the development of local and international adaptation measures; and 3) supplying this knowledge as potential pathways to action through innovative adaptation plans for responsible development.

The objective of the ARCPATH is to:

  • Combine improved regional climate predictions with enhanced understanding of environmental, societal, and economic interactions in order to supply new knowledge on Arctic "pathways to action".

A short summary of ARCPATH is:

  • ARCPATH will build on, and improve, cross-disciplinary state-of-the-art research in order to provide new insights and novel approaches to responsible development in the Arctic.

ARCPATH will create a multi-site Centre of Excellence that will focus on issues that are crucial for both Nordic countries, and globally, with an overarching goal of fostering responsible and sustainable development. Evidence for the significant changes currently occurring in the Arctic has become overwhelming, and covers many scientific disciplines spanning climatology and sea-ice studies, as well as the documentation provided by fieldwork with local communities and their inhabitants in the Nordic Arctic. A key issue is diminishing sea-ice- extent and resulting impact on society. Loss of sea ice in particular has a direct and immediate consequence for Arctic communities in the form of increased shipping and oil and gas exploration, together with direct and indirect effects on fisheries and marine mammals.

ARCPATH will organize work in seven work packages as illustrated in the diagram below. WP1 seeks to establish Arctic socio-ecological linkages. WP2 and 3 will produce improved Arctic and and global climate predictions. WP4 and 5 will use the established linkages from WP1, together with the climate predictions from WP2 and 3, to focus on issues regarding risks related to climate change, and what these mean for responsible development in Arctic coastal communities. WP4 and 5 will also inform WP2 and 3 in establishing climate-soci-ecological linkages. WP6 will draw together syntheses of project conclusions and recommendations. WP7 concerns management.