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.

Angus presents at ‘A Hostile Climate’ Conference

2019 April 8

On the 8th April, Angus presented the progress of his PhD project (Tooniktoyok) at the University of Leeds’ A Hostile Climate Conference. Along with a number of other presenters in Panel 3, Angus was able to provide an overview of the conceptual and methodological basis for his work, and disseminated some preliminary results. These included an up-to-date map of the project’s real-time vulnerability tracking component.














Angus will return to his study area at the end of April to collect further data on the economic component of the study. For more on Tooniktoyok, please see the project webpage on the University of Leeds’ website.

Adaptation financing for projects focused on food systems through the UNFCCC

2019 March 23

Conveska, A., Ford, J.D., Lesnikowski, A. and Harper, S. (2019). Adaptation financing for projects focused on food systems through the UNFCCCClimate Policy19(1), pp. 43-58.

Investments in adaptation are required to reduce vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of food systems to the impacts of climate change. For low-income nations, international financing plays a central role in supporting adaptation. In this article, we document and examine adaptation projects targeting food systems financed through funding bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We find that between 2004 and 2015, 3% (n = 96) of adaptation projects supported through the UNFCCC explicitly focused on the production, processing, distribution, preparation and/or consumption of food, with US$546 m mobilized through funding bodies directly and US$1.44bn through co-financing. Agriculture is the most common sector supported, with extreme weather events the primary climate change-related impact motivating nations to apply for adaptation financing. The majority of actions are documented to adapt the food production component of food systems, with limited focus within projects on the full range of food system vulnerability and the implications on food security.

Are local climate adaptation policies credible? A conceptual and operational assessment framework

2019 March 5

Olazabal, M., Galarraga, I., Ford, J., Sainz de Murieta, E. and Lesnikowski, A. (2019). Are local climate adaptation policies credible? A conceptual and operational assessment frameworkInternational Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, article online.


After the Paris Agreement that put stronger emphasis on the development of climate change adaptation policies and on the definition of financing mechanisms, there is a patent need to track whether actual planning efforts are proving sufficient. This entails the development of assessment methods and metrics as plans are drafted and actions implemented. To this end, this paper explores the concept of credibility as a critical issue in climate policy and develops an Adaptation Policy Credibility (APC) conceptual and operational assessment framework for helping to allocate public funding and private investments, and for implementing and catalysing climate policy. Through a pilot testing in four early-adopting cities (Copenhagen, Durban, Quito and Vancouver), a clear potential for large-n tracking and assessment exercises of local climate adaptation plans is envisaged. The APC approach might also be useful to guide individual cities that aim to improve their adaptation planning and policy-making processes.

Frontiers in data analytics for adaptation research: Topic modeling

2019 February 28

Lesnikowski, A., Belfer, E., Rodman, E., Smith, J., Biesbroek, R., Wilkerson, J.D., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. (2019). Frontiers in data analytics for adaptation research: Topic modeling. WIREs Climate Change, article online.


Rapid growth over the past two decades in digitized textual information represents untapped potential for methodological innovations in the adaptation governance literature that draw on machine learning approaches already being applied in other areas of computational social sciences. This Focus Article explores the potential for text mining techniques, specifically topic modeling, to leverage this data for large‐scale analysis of the content of adaptation policy documents. We provide an overview of the assumptions and procedures that underlie the use of topic modeling, and discuss key areas in the adaptation governance literature where topic modeling could provide valuable insights. We demonstrate the diversity of potential applications for topic modeling with two examples that examine: (a) how adaptation is being talked about by political leaders in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and (b) how adaptation is being discussed by decision‐makers and public administrators in Canadian municipalities using documents collected from 25 city council archives.