Promoting sustainable Arctic infrastructure as a key research theme requiring a collaborative multidisciplinary approach involving scientists, local communities, governments and industry
During the next few decades, the Arctic will see a continuation of warming and widespread expansion of infrastructure associated with extraction of Arctic resources. Climate change has drawn the attention of most of the Arctic scientific community, but the interacting effects of climate change and expanding infrastructure have received relatively little scientific research, despite increasing evidence that anthropogenic activity and climate change are interacting in complex ways to alter large areas of the Arctic. Several factors point to the need for coordinated interdisciplinary studies to examine infrastructure-related issues, including:
The large scale and differing nature of infrastructure and climate change impacts in different parts of the Arctic;
the complex, multidisciplinary and cumulative nature of the impacts to social and ecological systems; and
the need for new methods to assess cumulative effects and promote sustainable methods of infrastructure expansion.
The Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) initiative provides a forum for developing and sharing new ideas and methods to assess, respond to, and adaptively manage the cumulative effects of Arctic infrastructure and climate change. The term “infrastructure” is meant to include all forms of engineered infrastructure. RATIC seeks to advance our understanding of the social, economic, political, and ecological drivers of infrastructure development, the effects of infrastructure on the natural environment and society, and the means to manage the effects of existing and future infrastructure.
RATIC workshops at international conferences have been supported by cross IASC-Working-Group funding from the International Arctic Science Committee to promote participation by Arctic Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), IASC Fellows, and indigenous and industry representatives. Additional support has come from NSF ArcSEES, Grant No. 1263854 and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and U.S. Geological Survey. Authors contributing to the RATIC ICARPIII White Paper also received support from NSF EPSCoR award No. OIA-1208927; the U.S. National Atmospheric and the Space Administration (NASA) Land-Cover Land-Use Change Program (LCLUC Grant No. NNX14AD90G); NASA Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (NASA Pre-ABoVE Grant No. NNX13AM20G). Canada’s ArcticNet Integrated Regional Impacts Studies (IRIS) are a contribution of ArcticNet, a Network Centre of Excellence (NCE) of Canada; ADAPT is a Canadian NSERC grant program called Discover Frontiers. Other funding from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant No. РФФИ 13-05-91001-АНФ); Academy of Finland, Russia in Flux program, ENSINOR project (decision 208147); Academy of Finland: Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems of Northwest Eurasia - RISES (decision 256991). Case Study 5 was partially sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation grants ARC-1002119, ARC-1231294, ARC-1204110, and by the University of Tromso, Norway. Additional support came from the Norilsk City Council, and the Polar Division of Norilsk Nickel.