People living in the Arctic have a long history of adapting to fluctuations in their harsh environment. Even though this is a continuing challenge, especially given the increased pace and scale of recent changes, Arctic residents are finding new ways to survive and thrive.
Climate and environmental change can disrupt established ways of life, creating significant challenges for Arctic residents. For example, changes in vegetation and wildlife may make it more difficult for Sami reindeer herders in Sweden to earn a livelihood. Source: Mats Andersson
To take best advantage of the changes in resource availability and access, for example, residents are continuing to diversify their income sources and shift when and where they hunt, gather, herd, and fish. To make travel safer, residents are working to improve their communications infrastructure and increase the use of GPS and other specialized equipment to navigate treacherous terrain and assess sea ice conditions. At the community level, Arctic residents are investing in greater protection against extreme weather, such as flood and water management infrastructure. Despite these adaptations, Arctic residents will continue to face challenges as the region changes in the years to come.
Climate change and the realities of an uncertain future are affecting the Arctic at a more rapid pace than other places in the word. With rising sea levels, climate feedback loops, ecological changes, geopolitical shifts, new opportunities for resource extraction, and countless other ways, these changes will have immediate and lasting effects around the globe.
Summertime in Kulusuk, Greenland.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory, Andrew Bossi
This booklet is based on the following National Research Council reports:
- The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. National Research Council, 2014.
- Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment. National Research Council, 2014.
- Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop. National Research Council, 2014.
- Opportunities to Use Remote Sensing in Understanding Permafrost and Related Ecological Characteristics: Report of a Workshop. National Research Council, 2014.
- Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises. National Research Council, 2013.
- Climate Change Evidence and Causes: An Overview from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, 2014.
- Safe Navigation in the U.S. Arctic: Summary of a Conference. Transportation Research Board, 2013.
- Seasonal-to-Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies. National Research Council, 2012.
- Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future. National Research Council, 2012.
- Frontiers in Understanding Climate Change and Polar Ecosystems: Summary of a Workshop. National Research Council, 2011.
- National Security Implications of Climate Change for U.S. Naval Forces. National Research Council, 2011.
Other relevant reports:
- National Climate Assessment. US Global Change Research Program, 2014.
- Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2014.
- US Navy Arctic Roadmap: 2014–2030. US Navy, 2014.
For more information, please visit http://nas-sites.org/arctic.
Source: National Park Service, Alaska Region
This booklet was developed by Anne Johnson, Solmaz Spence, Katie Thomas, and Lauren Everett and designed by Jay Christian.
Support was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the US Global Change Research Program, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Special thanks to Laurie Geller, Deborah Glickson, Nancy Huddleston, Susan Roberts, Amanda Staudt, and Gregory Symmes; and to Richard Alley, Julie Brigham-Grette, Raychelle Daniel, Brendan Kelly, Henry Huntington, Jean Pennycook, Stephanie Pfirman, Gaius Shaver, John Walsh, James White, and representatives of the US Global Change Research Program, for their helpful contributions.
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
About the National Research Council
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. The Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering and is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine are private, non-proﬁt organizations.
The National Research Council enlists the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to serve on committees to address scientiﬁc and technical aspects of some of the nation’s most pressing problems. These experts serve pro bono and are screened for conflicts of interest to ensure that the committee is able to provide impartial and objective advice.
Explore the Arctic Matters Web Interactive to see the Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic: http://nas-sites.org/arctic
You are closer to the Arctic than you think. What happens in this remote and remarkable region has profound effects on the rest of the planet. Climate changes currently underway in the Arctic are a main driver for global sea-level rise, offer new prospects for natural resource extraction, and have rippling effects through the world’s weather, climate, food supply, and economy. Take an up-close look at the threats and opportunities of the Arctic’s rapidly-changing environment and find out why the Arctic matters — to all of us.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine