Wind power production in the Arctic. Photo: iStock

The Arctic in a changing climate

The temperatures in the Arctic continue to rise at more than twice the global annual average, driving many of the changes underway in the Arctic. Most prominently, snow and ice are melting at an increasing rate. This impacts both local ecosystems and the global climate system. It contributes to rising sea levels, and is likely to provoke extreme temperature events beyond the Arctic. The effects of a shifting Arctic climate are felt across the high latitudes and beyond – with global environmental, economic, and social implications.

While the effects of climate change are pronounced in the Arctic, their causes are often linked to activities taking place outside the region. This underlines the importance to raise awareness of Arctic change on a global level, and to integrate Arctic issues in global frameworks and conventions. The Arctic Council and its Working Groups are therefore collaborating closely with the Council’s Observer states and organizations and other stakeholders on addressing the implications of a changing climate in the high North.

Acknowledging the scope of the changes taking place and their possible effects on livelihoods, societies, the environment and economy, the Council’s Working Groups commit to working closely together. Through their ever-growing body of reports and assessments, the Arctic Council serves as knowledge broker and global advocate for Arctic topics.

How does the Arctic Council address the changing Arctic climate and its effects?

Climate change and adaptation actions

Understanding how climate change will affect the climate system and ecosystems is key to adapting livelihoods and to inform decision making on regional, national and international levels. AMAP has developed landmark assessments on climate impacts in the Arctic for more than 20 years and is continuing to do so.

In close collaboration, AMAP and CAFF are also assessing climate impacts on Arctic marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as ecosystem feedbacks to climate.

PAME is developing Factsheets related to MPAs and Indigenous Peoples’ Lives in a changing climate in collaboration with AMAP and CAFF. PAME is engaged with ICES and PICES for the purpose of information and synergies on their work on Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the Central Arctic Ocean (WGICA).

Wildfires are an emerging topic across Arctic Council Working Groups. As the environment and communities in the circumpolar North have been affected by unprecedented wildfires over the past few years, Arctic States and Permanent Participants provide specific expertise for a holistic approach on how to tackle future wildfire seasons.

Green energy solutions

The Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2019-2021) has made the development and application of practical green energy solutions in the Arctic region a priority during its two-year term. These solutions are aiming at enabling communities to reduce emissions and improve air quality. Thus, the Arctic Council continues to promote knowledge exchange and aims to support small and remote Arctic communities in transitioning to sustainable energy.

Resilience

Resilience is the capacity of communities and systems to recover and restore themselves from crises and disturbances. The Arctic region is changing rapidly, and the speed of ongoing change makes adaptation extremely challenging. Governments, Indigenous peoples, local communities, researchers, and businesses are therefore working together to build resilience to the social-ecological changes that are underway in the Arctic – and it is a cross-cutting theme across the Arctic Council’s Working Groups.

Featured Projects

Arctic Council logo

Modelling Arctic oceanographic connectivity

Ongoing climate change may facilitate increased access to the Arctic region, and potential new economic opportunities, but may also bring potential threats to the Arctic marine and coastal environment...

Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network (CLEO)

Our world is changing rapidly, and local observers can detect subtle changes in weather, landscapes and seascapes, and in plant and animal communities.
Soot on ice. Photo:iStock

Arctic Black Carbon Case Studies Platform

Showing how existing technologies successfully, sustainably, and affordably reduce black carbon emissions.

Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)

Advancing a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.

Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA)

Sharing knowledge and establishing professional networks related to energy resources for remote Arctic communities.
Water sampling in the Arctic. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/CAFF

Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring

Working with partners across the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term freshwater monitoring efforts.
Photo: CAFF

Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring

Working with partners across the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term terrestrial monitoring efforts.
Permafrost erosion in Alaska. Photo: USGS / M. Torre Jorgenson

Climate Issues: Cryosphere, meteorology, ecosystem impacts

Developing work on thresholds and extremes, Arctic/mid-latitude weather connections and performance of global models in the Arctic, with contributions from the meteorology community; and evaluating th...
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Understanding climate change impacts on Arctic ecosystems and associated climate feedbacks

Climate change is altering Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity. These changes feed back to the climate system, with a potential to dampen or accelerate local to regional changes in climate and greenhou...

Arctic Hydrogen Energy Applications and Demonstrations (AHEAD)

Design, construction and development of the year-round Snowflake International Arctic Station (IAS)

Arctic climate making headlines

Lloyd Pikok / Arctic Council Secretariat

Life in one of the fastest-warming places on Earth

A dive into the societal impacts of Arctic warming, written by Glaciologist Dr. Heïdi Sevestre.
10 May 2021
Geothermal Power Station, Iceland Credit: iStock / DieterMeyrl

Green energy shift in the Arctic

Act short-term, gain long-term
10 May 2021
Credit: Kari Mäenpää

Ten years of sustained Arctic observing

The Arctic is undergoing rapid change. In order to understand the effects on ecological and socio-economic systems, as well as to implement mitigation and adaptation meas...
10 May 2021
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