Emergency response in a rapidly changing Arctic

2017 January 30

Clark, D.G., Ford, J.D. (2017) Emergency response in a rapidly changing Arctic. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 189(4): 135-136.

Some highlight from the article:

– Wide disparities in both rates of unintentional injury and access to search-and-rescue services and emergency medical care exist between southern and northern Canada.

– Recent high-profile events in the Northwest Passage have drawn attention to the potential for a large-scale disaster in the Canadian Arctic.

– In the emergency medical care available to Inuit communities living in the Canadian North, interventions to improve resilience — particularly in the face of the effects of climate change — andaccess to emergency medical response services are needed.

@ccadapt work featured in Environmental Research Web

2017 February 22

Read more about the article entitled “Vulnerability to climate change: what’s happening at the community level?” here.

Social–ecological network analysis of scale mismatches in estuary watershed restoration

2017 February 22

Sayles, S.J., Baggio, A.J.(2017) Social–ecological network analysis of scale mismatches in estuary watershed restoration. PNAS.


Resource management boundaries seldom align with environmental systems, which can lead to social and ecological problems. Mapping and analyzing how resource management organizations in different areas collaborate can provide vital information to help overcome such misalignment. Few quantitative approaches exist, however, to analyze social collaborations alongside environmental patterns, especially among local and regional organizations (i.e., in multilevel governance settings). This paper develops and applies such an approach using social–ecological network analysis (SENA), which considers relationships among and between social and ecological units. The framework and methods are shown using an estuary restoration case from Puget Sound, United States. Collaboration patterns and quality are analyzed among local and regional organizations working in hydrologically connected areas. These patterns are correlated with restoration practitioners’ assessments of the productivity of their collaborations to inform network theories for natural resource governance. The SENA is also combined with existing ecological data to jointly consider social and ecological restoration concerns. Results show potentially problematic areas in nearshore environments, where collaboration networks measured by density (percentage of possible network connections) and productivity are weakest. Many areas also have high centralization (a few nodes hold the network together), making network cohesion dependent on key organizations. Although centralization and productivity are inversely related, no clear relationship between density and productivity is observed. This research can help practitioners to identify where governance capacity needs strengthening and jointly consider social and ecological concerns. It advances SENA by developing a multilevel approach to assess social–ecological (or social–environmental) misalignments, also known as scale mismatches.

Camila Flórez at the 17th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment

2017 January 31

From January 24 to 26, 2017, Camila participated in the 17th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment of the U.S. National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, DC. The conference had a special emphasis on water and healths issues across sectors and regions. The presentations provided theoretical and empirical insights on adaptive capacity of water systems and urban settings. In addition, broader socio-environmental topics were discussed such as promoting prosperity without growth, and dealing with the current political challenges to the environmental agenda.
See more on the conference website here.

@ccadapt work featured on CTV News, iPolitics, Winnipeg Free Press, Time Colonists, and La Presse

2017 January 23

Read article entitled “‘Few examples of concrete action:’ Study says Nunavut climate adaptation slow” at CTV News, iPolitics, Winnipeg Free Press, Time Colonists, and La Presse.

Adaptation readiness and adaptive capacity of transboundary river basins

2016 December 6

Tilleard, S., Ford, J.D. (2016) Adaptation readiness and adaptive capacity of transboundary river basins. Climatic Change. 137:575-591.


Transboundary river basins face significant threats from climate change,with the need for adaptation widely noted. In this paper we develop a theoretically-rooted indicator-based evaluation framework to identify transboundary river basins where the need for adaptation support is pronounced and prioritize where attention is best placed. The framework combines indicators which capture the broad level potential to adapt (adaptive capacity) and the actual preparedness for adaptation (adaptation readiness) at the level of transboundary institutions.Adaptive capacity and adaptation readiness have not previously been evaluated and compared within a single framework, and by combining them we gain a more comprehensive and nuanced basis for characterising and evaluating the adaptation landscape and diagnosing opportunities and constraints for adaptation. We apply the framework to 42 transboundary basins in Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, which account for 15 % of global transboundary river basins, are home to over 550 million people, and cover 8 % of Earth’s total land area. We find: 1) There is widespread need for improving national and transboundary institutional support for adaptation spanning basins of various economic, physical, and demographic characteristics; 2) Many transboundary basins in Africa have low adaptive capacity, but were found to have high readiness to begin adapting if resources were available; and 3) Im-proved coverage of River Basin Organisations and treaties with mandates to recognise and respond actively to climate change would underpin adaptation efforts across basins.

CCARG at ArcticNet 2016 next week

2016 December 5

The Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) for Arctic scientists is December 5th to December 9th in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As usual, numerous students and researchers from the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group will be presenting their work at the ArcticNet conference. The conference also provides an opportunity for students just beginning their research to engage with the broader polar research community and meet Northern officials and leaders. This year we will also be holding a workshop for early-career researchers affiliated with the Inuit Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change project (IK-ADAPT) network. IK-ADAPT is a multi-year, transdisciplinary initiative that CCARG helps lead.

Find out more about CCARG at ArcticNet 2016 here.

@ccadapt opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette

2016 November 26

Read the article entitled “Opinion: An inclusive approach to Canada’s climate change challenges” here.

Antonia Sohns at the Arctic Fulbright Week in Washington, DC

2016 November 18

From October 24 to 28, 2016, Antonia traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the Arctic Fulbright Week. The Week served as the capstone symposium for the seventeen Fulbright Arctic scholars’ research over the last 18 months.

Fulbright Arctic Week included events at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the National Academy of Sciences. The presentations highlighted water, energy, health, and infrastructure in the Arctic.

The week was informative and it was a wonderful opportunity to learn and discuss Arctic policy and science with the scholars from all eight Arctic nations. The Fulbright Arctic initiative is a powerful example of the importance of international collaboration and interdisciplinary work. Additionally, the Arctic youth ambassadors provided insights into life in Alaska and how they are working to mitigate the impacts of climate change on their state.

Check out a cool Twitter movie of the event at the Smithsonian here.

Dr. James Ford and Michelle Maillet at COP22 this week

2016 November 14

Catch Dr. James Ford and Michelle Maillet at COP22 this week! The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Marrakech runs from November 7-18.

Follow the members and keep up with the conference here:

Adaptation and Indigenous peoples in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

2016 October 31

Ford, J.D., Maillet, M., Pouliot, V., Meredith, T., Cavanaugh, A., IHACC Research Team. (2016) Adaptation and Indigenous peoples in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Climatic Change. 139(3): 429-443


Indigenous peoples are uniquely sensitive to climate change impacts yet have been overlooked in climate policy, including within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We identify and characterize the discourse around adaptation in the UNFCCC, examining implications for Indigenous peoples based on a critical discourse analysis of the original Convention and decision texts from subsequent Conference of the Parties (CP). CP16 in Cancun (2010) was a critical juncture after which adaptation emerged as a central component of climate policy in the Convention, with a shift from a purely scientific approach to adaptation to one where local, Indigenous, and traditional knowledge are also valued. Since CP16, the discursive space for incorporating the voices, needs, and priorities of Indigenous peoples around adaptation has expanded, reflected in decision texts and engagement with Indigenous issues in the work streams of relevant bodies. We outline opportunities for greater engagement of Indigenous issues in the UNFCCC post-Paris Agreement, noting the underlying State-centric nature of the Convention limits what can ultimately be achieved.

Vulnerability to unintentional injuries associated with land-use activities and search and rescue in Nunavut, Canada

2016 October 6

Clark, D.G., Ford, J.D., Pearce, T.,Berrang-Ford, L. (2016) Vulnerability to unintentional injuries associated with land-use activities and search and rescue in Nunavut, Canada. Social Science and Medicine. 169. 18-26.


Injury is the leading cause of death for Canadians aged 1 to 44, occurring disproportionately across regions and communities. In the Inuit territory of Nunavut, for instance, unintentional injury rates are over three times the Canadian average. In this paper, we develop a framework for assessing vulnerability to injury and use it to identify and characterize the determinants of injuries on the land in Nunavut. We specifically examine unintentional injuries on the land (outside of hamlets) because of the importance of land-based activities to Inuit culture, health, and well-being. Semi-structured interviews (n = 45) were conducted in three communities that have varying rates of search and rescue (SAR), complemented by an analysis of SAR case data for the territory. We found that risk of land-based injuries is affected by socioeconomic status, Inuit traditional knowledge, community organizations, and territorial and national policies. Notably, by moving beyond common conceptualizations of unintentional injury, we are able to better assess root causes of unintentional injury and outline paths for prevention.

Good luck to Anna in her new job

2016 September 30

@ccadapt wishes Anna Bunce all the best in her new job at BC’s Ministry of Forestry Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Anna has been with the lab for over 5 years, first as a research assistant, then as an MA student examining the effects of climate change on Inuit women, before working as a project lead. Best of luck Anna!

@ccadapt paper in PNAS: Big data has big potential for applications to climate change adaptation

2016 September 28

Ford, J.D., Tilleard, S.E., Berrang-Ford, L., Araos, M., Biesbroek, R., Lesnikowski, A.C., MacDonald, G.K., Hsu, A., Chen, C., Bizikova, L. (2016). Big data has big potential for applications to climate change adaptation. PNAS. 113(39). 10729-10732


The capacity to collect and analyze massive amounts of data is transforming research in the natural and social sciences (1). And yet, the climate change adaptation community has largely overlooked these developments. Here, we examine how “big data” can inform adaptation research and decision-making and outline what’s needed from the adaptation community to maximize this opportunity. We contend that careful application of big data could revolutionize our understanding of how to manage the risks of climate change

Longitudinal assessment of climate vulnerability: a case study from the Canadian Arctic

2016 September 28

Archer, L., Ford, J.D., Pearce, T., Kowal, S., Gough, W.A., Allurut, M. (2016) Longitudinal assessment of climate vulnerability: a case study from the Canadian Arctic. Sustainability Science. 11(31). 1-15.


The Arctic is a global hotspot of climate change, which is impacting the livelihoods of remote Inuit communities. We conduct a longitudinal assessment of climate change vulnerability drawing upon fieldwork conducted in 2004 and 2015 in Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), Nunavut, and focusing on risks associated with subsistence harvesting activities. Specifically, we employ the same conceptual and methodological approach to identify and characterize who is vulnerable, to what stresses, and why, assessing how this has changed over time, including re-interviewing individuals involved in the original study. We find similarities between the two periods, with many of the observed environmental changes documented in 2004 having accelerated over the last decade, exacerbating risks of land use: changing sea ice regimes and wind patterns are the most widely documented at both times, with new observations reporting more frequent sighting of polar bear and orca. Socio-economic and technological changes have altered the context in climate change impacts are being experienced and responded to, both exacerbating and moderating vulnerabilities compared to 2004. The adoption of new technology, including GPS and widespread use of the internet, has helped land users manage changing conditions while sharing networks remain strong, despite concern noted in the 2004 study that they were weakening. Challenges around access to financial resources and concern over the incomplete transmission of some environmental knowledge and land skills to younger generations continue to increase sensitivity and limit adaptive capacity to changing climatic conditions.