Workshops & Meetings

Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Advancing Sustainable Arctic Infrastructure

ASSW 2022 in Tromsø, Norway, & Online | 26 March

The 2022 RATIC/T-MOSAiC community meeting in Tromsø featured presentations and dialog exploring cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding the impacts of infrastructure and climate change in the Arctic. This half-day hybrid meeting will focus on topics prioritized at past RATIC events: 1) Approaches and recent progress in Arctic infrastructure mapping and monitoring; 2) Arctic community perspectives on infrastructure research and policy needs; and 3) Updates from national and international research initiatives addressing Arctic change, resilience and adaptation in natural, built and social systems.

The meeting was in a hybrid format with options for in-person and online attendance. The meeting is organized by the T-MOSAiC Arctic Infrastructure Action Group as a cross-cutting activity funded by the International Arctic Science Committee. Conveners: Olga Povoroznyuk and Peter Schweitzer (University of Vienna, Austria), Jana Peirce and Skip Walker (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska, USA)

Agenda & Presentations

Links to presentation slides are included in the agenda where available. Note: Agenda times are listed in Central Europe Standard Time (CEST). For Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), subtract one hour.
 Agenda PDF |  Time Zone Converter

14:00 Welcome and Introductions Conveners
14:05 T-MOSAiC Update João Canário, Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal)
14:15 Arctic Community Perspectives Keynote
Abstract | Slides
Gunn-Britt Retter, Saami Council, Arctic and Environmental Unit (Norway)

Community Perspectives Panel Discussion

Moderators: Olga Povoroznyuk & Peter Schweitzer, University of Vienna (Austria)
15:30 Break  
16:00 European Union Horizon 2020: Nunataryuk Update Hugues Lantuit, Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany)
16:10 US National Science Foundation: Navigating the New Arctic Update
Matt Druckenmiller, University of Colorado Boulder (USA)
16:20 Arctic Infrastructure Mapping and Monitoring Keynote
Abstract | Slides
Annett Bartsch, b.geos & Austrian Polar Research Institute (Austria)

Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Panel Discussion

  • Annett Bartsch, b.geos/Austria Polar Research Institute, Vienna (Austria)
  • Dorothee Ehrich, UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Norway)(tentative)
  • Nikolay Shiklomanov, George Washington University, D.C., USA
  • Chandi Witharana, University of Connecticut, Connecticut (USA) | Slides
Moderator: Vera Kuklina, George Washington University, D.C. (USA)
17:35 General Discussion Convenors
18:00 Adjourn  


Keynote Presentation: Arctic Community Perspectives

Arctic Indigenous Peoples challenges from a Sámi perspective

Gunn-Britt Retter, Saami Council, Norway

The Arctic climate has been warming three times faster than the global average the last 50 years. Among other things bringing the winter temperatures to fluctuate around zero for more days during the winter and expanding the growing season at both ends of Summer with several weeks. These are among environmental changes challenging the cultures depending on living resources and nature. Flexibility is among the keys in the toolbox to cope with the climate crises. The society at large need to mitigate climate change and look for alternative energy sources, often sought placed on land already in use by traditional Sámi economies, adding burden to already stressed livelihoods. The supreme court in Norway recently ruled that licences for wind power development on Fosen invalid as the construction violates Sámi reindeer herders' right to enjoy their own culture[1]. The wind turbines were, however, already set up while the complaint was still ongoing and the harm done. The Sámi people is recognized, have its parliaments, organisations, institutions, and consultation agreements and invited to share their views in media and conferences.

The keynote presentation will present the Arctic Indigenous Peoples challenges from a Sámi perspective and raise the question what more is needed to be heard? Why is the society at large still not listening and taking action?

Keynote Presentation: Arctic Infrastructure Mapping and Monitoring

Expanding infrastructure in the Arctic as visible from space

Annett Bartsch, b.geos & Austrian Polar Research Institute

Recent progress in satellite data availability allows for automatised identification of infrastructure in the Arctic. Compared to Landsat with 30 m, Sentinel-1/2 provides with 10 m spatial resolution significant improvement. Roads as well as buildings can be identified. Infrastructure expansion can be monitored by combination with vegetation related observations. Only specific types of infrastructure can be identified, but at sufficient detail to monitor recent expansion consistently across the Arctic. Geographic differences impact on the one hand detection accuracy and on the other hand are reflected in the mapped patterns of human impact.

We derived a first panarctic satellite-based record of expanding infrastructure and anthropogenic impacts along all permafrost affected coasts (100 km buffer) within the H2020 project Nunataryuk based on Sentinel-1/2 satellite imagery. C-band synthetic aperture radar and multi-spectral information is combined through a machine learning framework. Depending on region, we identified up to 50% more information (human presence) than in OpenStreetMap. The combination with satellite records on vegetation change (specifically NDVI from Landsat since 2000) allowed quantification of recent expansion of infrastructure. Most of the expanded human presence occurred in Russia related predominantly to oil/gas industry.



Annett Bartsch obtained her doctorate from the University of Reading, UK in 2004 for her studies in northern Norway and Sweden on periglacial geomorphology and remote sensing. She serves as faculty member of the Doctorate College of the Department of Geoinformatics and Z_GIS at University of Salzburg and supervises PhD and Master students at Vienna University of Technology. Her research interests include remote sensing of land surface hydrology with focus on active microwave remote sensing applications in terrestrial polar environments, specifically permafrost related features. She is a board member of the Austrian Polar Research Institute (leader of the land surface remote sensing working group) and national WMO Global Cryosphere Watch focal point. She is author/co-author of more than 30 peer reviewed papers and book chapters mostly on land surface remote sensing in the Arctic (including snow, permafrost, soil moisture and wetlands).

João Canário is a biogeochemistry, coordinator researcher at the Centre of Structural Chemistry and Associate Professor at the School of Engineering of the University of Lisbon. His research is focusing on the chemical characterisation of natural organic matter in permafrost thaw lakes and more recently in the use of Arctic Sea ice as Earth analogue of the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. He is the Portuguese Council Member at IASC and Vice-chair of the IASC TWG. More recently he is involved as IASC representative at SAON ROADS and one of the three co-chairs of SAON COM. Since 2017 is the the chair of the IASC Program T-MOSAiC.

Matthew Druckenmiller serves as the Navigating the New Arctic Community Office (NNA-CO) Director. He is also a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. He brings over 15 years of transdisciplinary research experience in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, often in close collaboration with Arctic communities. He also brings experience in participating with a host of national and international Arctic research and policy institutions, including the U.S. Polar Research Board (PRB), the U.S. Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), and the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). Matthew currently serves as the U.S. Delegate to the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

Stanislav (Stas) Ksenofontov is an indigenous Sakha social scientist from the Republic of Sakha, NE Siberia, Russia. He earned his PhD from the University of Zurich (Switzerland) where he conducted his research on the vulnerability of social-ecological systems of Arctic Sakha to global change drivers, namely climate change, land use change as well as socio-political transformations. Stas is a postdoctoral scholar at the ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa (USA) where he continues his research on the impacts of global change on Arctic social-ecological systems, particularly urbanization effects on Indigenous identities, Russian energy megaprojects impacts on ecosystems and traditional practices, urban infrastructures. Besides, Dr. Ksenofontov's research interests include Asian interests in the Arctic, sustainability of Indigenous communities, Indigenous knowledge. Dr. Ksenofontov is an Indigenous collaborations project group leader of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and Fellowship Program Coordinator of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

Vera Kuklina is a Research Professor at the Department of Geography at the George Washington University. She holds degree of Candidate of geographical sciences (equivalent of PhD) from V.B. Sochava Institute of Geography of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences since 2003. Her research interests include urbanization of indigenous people, traditional land use, socio-ecological systems, cultural geographies of infrastructure and remoteness. She co-leads an ArtSLInK initiative, focused on convergence of science, arts and place-based local and Indigenous Knowledge systems. Vera Kuklina is the author of about seventy articles and the monograph Local communities in Multiethnic environment of South Siberia: cultural-geographical view (in Russian), Novosibirsk 2006. Among her recent publications are papers in Environmental Research Letters, Polar Science, Polar Record, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Polar Geography, Geoforum, and Sustainability.

Hugues Lantuit leads the Arctic Coastal Research Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), and is a professor of geomorphology of polar coasts at the University of Potsdam. Dr. Lantuit started his studies in France and Canada before completing a Ph.D. in geosciences at the University of Potsdam in Germany. He has led many expeditions to the Arctic, and has coordinated several large-scale projects related to permafrost thaw and the vulnerability of the Arctic coast, including Nunataryuk, an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project. He is co-founder of two large networks that bring together a total of more than 5000 young researchers in the polar science community.

Sten Lund is a Research Coordinator at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Church (Naalakkersuisut), Greenland. He has a background in social science and graduated from the University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik). Sten has a long experience as an administrator in the private and the public sectors in Greenland. He worked in the field of research management and establishment of research bodies in Greenland, and is responsible for development of the national research strategy. Sten has been a Chair of Action Group for Indigenous Involvement under IASC, and is a member of ROADS Advisory Panel under SAON.

Liza Mack is Unangax, born and raised in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. She received her PhD in Indigenous Studies in 2019 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), where her research focused on political ecology, natural resource management, knowledge transfer and engagement of Native communities in the regulatory process and how that may or may not affect the Native Cultures of Alaska. She also holds an M.S. in Anthropology from Idaho State University and has taught Native Cultures of Alaska and Intro to Unangam Tunuu as an adjunct professor at the UAF. From 2017 – February 2022 Dr. Mack served as the Executive Director for the Aleut International Association before moving to the Denali Commission, where she is the program manager for Transportation and Village Infrastructure Protection (VIP) projects. Her current portfolio includes projects related to village relocation, protection in place and managed retreat – three approaches to helping communities be resilient in the face of change – as well as road and marine transportation projects.

Olga Povoroznyuk is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, and a guest researcher at the Institute of Applied Social Science Analysis . Her research interests include the issues of infrastructure and development, identity, ethnicity and indigeneity, postsocialism and postcolonialism, with a focus on the Circumpolar North. She is an author of a book on post-Soviet transformations in indigenous Evenki communities and an editor and contributor to a recently published collection of essays on entanglements of local communities with infrastructure along the Baikal-Amur Mainline in East Siberia. Currently, Dr. Povoroznyuk is a research coordinator and a study region leader for Russia of InfraNorth, a project of the European Research Council on the role of transport infrastructure in habitation and sustainable community development in the Arctic.

Gunn-Britt Retter lives in the coastal Saami community Unjárga-Nesseby in north-eastern Norway. She is a teacher of training from Sámi University of Applied Sciences and holds MA in Bilingual studies from University of Wales. Since 2001, Retter has worked with Arctic Environmental issues, first at Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (IPS) and since 2005 in the present position as Head of Arctic and Environmental Unit of the Saami Council. Retter has been involved in issues related to Indigenous Peoples and knowledge associated with climate change, biodiversity, language, pollution and management of natural resources, both at Arctic and International level.

Nikolay (Kolia) Shiklomanov is a Professor of Geography at The George Washington University (GWU) in Washington DC, USA. His main area of interest is permafrost and its interactions with natural and human systems. His research includes long-term permafrost observations in the Circumpolar Arctic, Permafrost-related process studies, and the effect of permafrost on human activity and infrastructure. Over the last decade, Dr. Shiklomanov has become increasingly interested in the socio-economic impacts of climate change on the Arctic, specifically between the Arctic urban system and permafrost. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Shiklomanov has been actively participating in fieldwork in the Alaskan and Russian Arctic. As an educator, he teaches courses in Physical Geography, Climatology, and Arctic Environments at GWU as well as international field summer courses in the Arctic.

Peter Schweitzer is currently Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna. He is a founding member of the Austrian Polar Research Institute and served as its director from 2016-2020. He is one of two Austrian representatives to the Social and Human Working Group (SHWG) of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and was the first chair of the SHWG from 2011 to 2015. Schweitzer served as president of the International Arctic Social Science Association (IASSA) from 2001 to 2005 and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His theoretical interests range from kinship and identity politics to human-environmental interactions, including the social lives of infrastructure and the community effects of global climate change; his regional focus areas include the circumpolar North and the former Soviet Union. He has published widely on all of these issues.

Chandi Witharana is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at University of Connecticut. By training, he is a Remote Sensing scientist. His research broadly captures the methodological developments and adaptations to unseal faster, deeper, and more accurate analysis of large volumes of Remote Sensing data. Automated recognition of landforms and other features in the Arctic from sub-meter resolution commercial satellite imagery is one of the key projects that he has been conducting under the funding of the US National Science Foundation. He combines sophisticated computer vision algorithms and high-performance computing resources to automatically analyze tens of thousands of commercial satellite imagery at Pan-Arctic scale. His goal is to transform big imagery into Arctic science-ready products.