UCL Earth Sciences


Advancing adaptive capacity of Arctic communities.

28 April 2020

Prof Julienne Stroeve is a partner in a major international EU Horizon 2020 funded project. Her role will be to detect winter rain on snow events using satellite data. CHARTER (Drivers and feedbacks of changes in Arctic terrestrial biodiversity) will run for four years.

Advancing adaptive capacity of Arctic communities

The project is a global effort with partners from beyond the EU including Iceland, Greenland, Norway, UK and Switzerland as well as from the United States, Canada, China and Russia. It is an ambitious effort to advance adaptive capacity of Arctic communities to climatic and biodiversity changes. This is done through state-of-the-art synthesis based on thorough data collection, analysis and modelling of Arctic change with major socio-economic implications and feedbacks. To achieve this goal, the project will combine expertise from Earth System sciences and biodiversity studies within a Social-Ecological Systems framework and strongly participatory approach.

The very idea of the project is to make science and indigenous and local communities to meet and interact, says professor Bruce Forbes of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland. Forbes is the coordinator of the project and leading a team of 21 international partners and a budget of 5,9 million euros.

Strategies co-developed in partnership with indigenous and local communities will comprise synergies between their ambitions for adaptation actions with novel forms of land management geared towards climate mitigation and sustainable development. The overall objective is improved understanding of Arctic change and how ecosystems and communities will navigate this change with implications for e.g. decision-makers, national and international climate/biodiversity policies, and reindeer governance. Arctic climate change facts are in the background of this project. Arctic air temperatures have already increased more than six times the global average. Even if existing COP21 Paris Agreement commitments are met, winter temperatures over the Arctic Ocean will increase 3-5°C by mid-century compared to 1986-2005 levels. This will have profound consequences for indigenous and local communities as well as Social-Ecological System resilience.

CHARTER will work with Arctic communities to co-develop strategies and policy pathways for locally and regionally critical livelihoods and enhance adaptation. It also aims at projecting and simulating the effects of social-ecological changes for linked indigenous and local communities and traditional livelihoods sharing the affected territories, especially herding and hunting of large semi-domesticated and wild ungulate herds. In addition, the project aims at understanding the responses of Arctic terrestrial systems to changes in the cryosphere (e.g. permafrost, snow and sea ice cover, and rain-on-snow events), biodiversity and their feedbacks and interactions. This project will will create a unique data-based synthesis informed by stakeholder perspectives of 21st century Arctic change, Professor Forbes summarizes. The policy options will be driven by co-production of knowledge with local communities, simultaneously accounting for global shifts, including climate change.

The European Commission has just signed the papers and work can begin. Project website and contacts will be published after summer.