Changing access to ice, land and water in Arctic communities

2019 March 19

Ford, J.D., Clark, D., Pearce, T., Berrang-Ford, L., Copland, L., Dawson, J., New, M. and Harper, S.L. (2019). Changing access to ice, land and water in Arctic communitiesNature Climate Change, article online.


Arctic climate change has the potential to affect access to semi-permanent trails on land, water and sea ice, which are the main forms of transport for communities in many circumpolar regions. Focusing on Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homeland in northern Canada), trail access models were developed drawing upon a participatory process that connects Indigenous knowledge and science. We identified general thresholds for weather and sea ice variables that define boundaries that determine trail access, then applied these thresholds to instrumental data on weather and sea ice conditions to model daily trail accessibility from 1985 to 2016 for 16 communities. We find that overall trail access has been minimally affected by >2 °C warming in the past three decades, increasing by 1.38–1.96 days, differing by trail type. Across models, the knowledge, equipment and risk tolerance of trail users were substantially more influential in determining trail access than changing climatic conditions.

Congratulations to Alex on her PhD defence

2019 July 10

A big congratulations to Dr Alex Lesnikwoski who successful defended her PhD last week in the dept. of geography at McGill University. Alex’s thesis is titled “Climate change adaptation policy formulation among local governments: A policy instruments approach.” Alex first started working with @ccadapt in 2010, pioneering first generation approaches to adaptation tracking. She then went to UBC to do a masters degree in planning before returning to @ccadapt to lead the SSHRC funded adaptation tracking collaborative, beginning her PhD in 2015. Alex will start a postdoc in September with Dr Dan Scott at the University of Waterloo through a SSHRC funded postdoctoral scholarship.

Community-based monitoring of Indigenous food security in a changing climate: global trends and future directions.

2019 July 10

Lam, S., Dodd, W., Skinner, K., Papadopoulos, A., Zivot, C.Ford, J.D., Garcia, P.J., IHACC Research Team and Sherilee L Harper. (2019). Community-based monitoring of Indigenous food security in a changing climate: global trends and future directionsEnvironmental Research Letters14(7), article online.


Climate change is expected to exacerbate existing food security challenges, especially in Indigenous communities worldwide. Community-based monitoring (CBM) is considered a promising strategy to improve monitoring of, and local adaptation to climatic and environmental change. Yet, it is unclear how this approach can be applied in food security or Indigenous contexts. The objectives of this paper are to: (1) review and synthesize the published literature on CBM of Indigenous food security; and, (2) identify gaps and trends in these monitoring efforts in the context of climate change. Using a systematic search and screening process, we identified 86 published articles. To be included, articles had to be published in a journal, describe a CBM system, describe any aspect of food security, and explicitly mention an Indigenous community. Relevant articles were thematically analyzed to characterize elements of CBM in the context of climate change. Results show that the number of articles published over time was steady and increased more than two-fold within the last five years. The reviewed articles reported on monitoring mainly in North America (37%) and South America (28%). In general, monitoring was either collaborative (51%) or externally-driven (37%), and focused primarily on tracking wildlife (29%), followed by natural resources (16%), environmental change (15%), fisheries (13%), climate change (9%), or some combination of these topics (18%). This review provides an evidence-base on the uses, characteristics, and opportunities of CBM, to guide future food security monitoring efforts in the context of climate change.

Media Coverage on CBC

2019 June 18

James was recently interviewed for the CBC News article: In our backyard: What climate change in Canada looks likeThe article discusses the role that a climate is playing in the prevalence of wildfires, flooding, heatwaves and changes to the Arctic environment.  James, on the importance of emergency management and traditional knowledge to risk reduction in the Arctic:


More investments, however, need to be made in things like search and rescue and emergency management, said James Ford, Priestley Chair in Climate Adaptation at the University of Leeds, who does research in Canada’s North. Ford also believes that making sure traditional Indigenous knowledge — such as survival skills and how to identify dangerous conditions — gets passed on to younger generations.

“This knowledge is extremely important for adapting to climate change.”




An integrative climate change vulnerability index for Arctic aviation and marine transportation

2019 June 18

Debortoli, N.S., Clark, D.G., Ford, J.D., Sayles, J.S. and Diaconescu, E.P. (2019). An integrative climate change vulnerability index for Arctic aviation and marine transportationNature Communications10, article number: 2596.


Climate change vulnerability research methods are often divergent, drawing from siloed biophysical risk approaches or social-contextual frameworks, lacking methods for integrative approaches. This substantial gap has been noted by scientists, policymakers and communities, inhibiting decision-makers’ capacity to implement adaptation policies responsive to both physical risks and social sensitivities. Aiming to contribute to the growing literature on integrated vulnerability approaches, we conceptualize and translate new integrative theoretical insights of vulnerability research to a scalable quantitative method. Piloted through a climate change vulnerability index for aviation and marine sectors in the Canadian Arctic, this study demonstrates an avenue of applying vulnerability concepts to assess both biophysical and social components analyzing future changes with linked RCP climate projections. The iterative process we outline is transferable and adaptable across the circumpolar north, as well as other global regions and shows that transportation vulnerability varies across Inuit regions depending on modeled hazards and transportation infrastructures.

Tracking global climate adaptation among governments

2019 May 28

Berrang-Ford, L., Biesbroek, R., Ford, J.D., Lesnikowski, A., Tanabe, A., Wang, F.M., Chen, C., Hsu, A., Hellmann, J.J., Pringle, P., Grecequet, M., Amado, J.-C., Huq, S., Lwasa, S. and Heymann, J. (2019). Tracking global climate adaptation among governments. Nature Climate Change9, pp. 440-449.


The Paris Agreement and Katowice Climate Package articulate a clear mandate for all parties to undertake and document adaptation progress. Yet persistent challenges have prevented substantive developments in tracking adaptation and the assessment of adaptation actions and their outcomes. Here, we provide an overview of the challenges of adaptation tracking and propose a comprehensive conceptual framework for assessing adaptation progress by governments that is scalable over time and across contexts. The framework addresses the core components of adaptation assessment (vulnerability, goals and targets, adaptation efforts, and adaptation results) and characterizes subcomponents focused on adaptation effort (leadership, organizations and policy). In particular, we highlight how critical insights can be uncovered by systematically tracking policy efforts over time, and discusses novel approaches to data collection.