Postgraduate research opportunities in ‘Participatory climate modelling and ethnoclimatology in the Arctic’ (ESRC White Rose DTP)

2018 December 12

James currently has funding for two PhD students in the field of ‘Participatory climate modelling and ethnoclimatology in the Arctic‘ via the Economic and Social Research Council’s White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership. For more information on entry requirements, and how to apply, please see the link above.


Project Description


The Arctic is undergoing transformative climate change, with profound implications for transportation systems. The lengthening of the shipping season in the Arctic Ocean is well-documented herein, with warming temperatures also compromising the operating period and safety of winter roads. Less studied are the more informal transportation networks involving use of unmaintained trails on frozen lakes, rivers, ocean, and the frozen ground, which are critically important for travel between communities, to cultural sites, and for practicing traditional hunting and fishing activities which have particular importance for Indigenous communities.

In research conducted as part of the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project (, we have documented concerns among Inuit communities that changing trail access due to climate change is affecting a variety of health outcomes including compromising food security, impacting wellbeing, and reducing physical safety. With the Arctic projected to experience the most warming globally this century, these impacts could worsen considerably.

Our understanding of potential future vulnerabilities is limited, however, with research examining associations between changing trail access and health outcomes mostly qualitative and descriptive in nature. The PhD project will play a key role in developing and applying a framework to connect Indigenous knowledge (IK) and science to model how climate affects community access to trails.

The framework will use mixed methods to link local experiences, observations, and knowledge into climate language and climate modeling constructs, and will be developed in close collaboration with Inuit communities.

The objectives of the studentship include developing a participatory modeling framework to quantify how climate-related conditions affect trail access, and projecting future impacts using downscaled GCM data to model how climatic thresholds and associated trail access might be affected at different levels of warming and over different timescales.

James featured in Times article on Arctic tourism.

2018 December 4

On Saturday 1st December, James was featured in a Times article addressing the potential impacts of Arctic tourism.

James Ford, professor of climate change adaptation at the University of Leeds, said that cruise ships could bring commercial benefits to Arctic ports but they also overwhelmed them.

He said that the cruise industry was promoting “last chance tourism” to see glaciers before they melted and wildlife before it disappeared, but the Arctic was not ready to accommodate the increase in visitors.

Cruise passengers could also be at risk because there was “very little capability to respond to a mass casualty incident in the Arctic.”

“It’s mostly local communities who would have to send out a rescue party and they only have small boats. Getting  a Hercules plane there would take seven to eight hours”, he said.

The article in full can be viewed here.


@ccadapt policy impact on major Arctic reports

2018 November 30

Two major reports were released this week in which Arctic research by the @ccadapt team figures strongly. Firstly, the UKs Environmental Audit Committee released its Changing Arctic Report, assessing the relevance of Arctic change to the UK, and examining the sufficiency of UK policy and research focusing on the region. The teams community based research and studies assesses the current state of knowledge underpins a call to scale up social science and interdisciplinary Arctic research in the UK, building upon oral evidence given by James in July. Secondly, in Canada, the Senate’s Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans “When every minute counts” assesses maritime search and rescue in Canada, and makes a number of recommendations for the Arctic, rooted in the teams’ longstanding focus on emergency response and testimony given by Dylan Clark to Senate in the spring.

Do Administrative Traditions Matter for Climate Change Adaptation Policy? A Comparative Analysis of 32 High‐Income Countries

2018 November 29

Biesbroek, R., Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. and Vink, M. (2018). Do Administrative Traditions Matter for Climate Change Adaptation Policy? A Comparative Analysis of 32 High-Income Countries. Review of Policy Research35(6), pp. 881-906.

Although governments are developing and implementing policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change, it remains unclear which factors shape how states are developing these policies. This paper aims to assess whether or not administrative traditions matter for the formation of national climate change adaptation policy in 32 high‐income countries. We operationalize administrative traditions based on five structural criteria: vertical dispersion of authority, horizontal coordination, interest mediation between state‐society, role of public administrator, and how ideas enter bureaucracy. We construct a unique adaptation policy dataset that includes 32 high‐income countries to test seven hypotheses. Our results indicate that countries’ adaptation policies align to some extent with their administrative structure, particularly dispersion of authority and horizontal coordination. However, we find limited evidence that other public bureaucracy factors are related to national adaptation policy. We conclude that administrative traditions matter, but that their influence should not be overestimated.

A framework for assessing community adaptation to climate change in a fisheries context

2018 November 19

Galappathithi, E.K., Ford, J.D. and Bennet, E.M. (2019). A framework for assessing community adaptation to climate change in a fisheries contextEnvironmental Science and Policy92, pp. 17-26.


There is a rapidly growing body of scholarship on climate change adaptation in diverse contexts globally. Despite this, climate adaptation at the community level has not received adequate conceptual attention, and a limited number of analytical frameworks are available for assessing place-specific adaptations, particularly in a fisheries context. We use conceptual material from social-ecological systems (SES) resilience and human development resilience to build an integrated framework for evaluating community adaptations to climate change in a fisheries setting. The framework defines resilience as the combined result of coping, adapting, and transforming—recognizing resilience as a system’s capacity and as a process. This understanding of resilience integrates with the three development resilience concepts of resistance, rootedness, and resourcefulness to develop ‘place-based elements’ which refer to collective action, institutions, agency, and indigenous and local knowledge systems. The proposed framework can capture a local setting’s place-specific attributes relating to the well-being of individuals, households, and communities, and the through integration of SES and human development conceptualizations addresses some of the key critiques of the notion of resilience. We have proposed this framework for application in context-specific environments—including fisheries—as a means of assessing community adaptations.