CCARG member Graham McDowell starting a PhD at UBC this fall

2015 August 17

Graham in Greenland. Photo by Vanessa Kiss.

Longtime CCARG member Graham McDowell is starting his PhD at the University of British Columbia, where he will be affiliated with the Institute for Resource, Environment, and Sustainability. His doctoral work aims provide a first-of-its-kind typology of environmental change impacts in high mountain regions, and therefrom principles for navigating environmental change is ways that are attentive to the specific socio-economic and biogeophysical conditions of high mountain regions. Building on his record of peer-reviewed publications; successful fieldwork in the Nepal Himalaya, Rocky Mountains, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic; and lead role in numerous international assessments of environmental change in cold regions; Graham hopes to emerge from his doctoral work at UBC as a leader in theorizing and developing sound responses to environmental change in high mountain regions. He will continue to collaborate with CCARG on various projects.

From the entire CCARG team, we wish Graham all the best in this new endeavor.

Learn more about Graham’s research by visiting his personal website at, or click here for a direct link.

Seasonal prevalence and determinants of food insecurity in Iqaluit, Nunavut

2015 August 6

Guo, Y., Berrang-Ford, L., Ford, J., Lardeau, MP., Edge, V., Patterson, K., the IHACC Research Team, and Harper, S. (2015). Access PDF here. International Journal of Circumpolar Health.

Background. Food insecurity is an ongoing problem in the Canadian Arctic. Although most studies have focused on smaller communities, little is known about food insecurity in larger centres.

Objectives. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of food insecurity during 2 different seasons in Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, as well as identify associated risk factors.

Design. A modified United States Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey was applied to 532 randomly selected households in September 2012 and 523 in May 2013. Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine potential associations between food security and 9 risk factors identified in the literature.

Results. In September 2012, 28.7% of surveyed households in Iqaluit were food insecure, a rate 3 times higher than the national average, but lower than smaller Inuit communities in Nunavut. Prevalence of food insecurity in September 2012 was not significantly different in May 2013 (27.2%). When aggregating results from Inuit households from both seasons (May and September), food insecurity was associated with poor quality housing and reliance on income support (p<0.01). Unemployment and younger age of the person in charge of food preparation were also significantly associated with food insecurity. In contrast to previous research among Arctic communities, gender and consumption of country food were not positively associated with food security. These results are consistent with research describing high food insecurity across the Canadian Arctic.

Conclusion. The factors associated with food insecurity in Iqaluit differed from those identified in smaller communities, suggesting that experiences with, and processes of, food insecurity may differ between small communities and larger commercial centres. These results suggest that country food consumption, traditional knowledge and sharing networks may play a less important role in larger Inuit communities.

Post-doctoral fellowship in climate change and health adaptation

2015 August 6

Project description: Climate change has been described as the biggest threat to human health this century. The Canadian Arctic is witnessing the most significant warming globally, and numerous health implications have already been documented among Inuit communities. Focusing on adaptation offers a proactive approach for managing the health effects of climate change, and the recently initiated 5-year multi-institution IK-ADAPT project (CIHR Foundation Grant) is examining opportunities for health adaptation intervention at a community-level in the Canadian North, and evaluating how existing health policies and programs at various scales may affect vulnerability to future change. The work is focusing on responding to multiple risks posed by climate change, covering food & water security, mental health, personal safety, and new and emerging diseases, and will feed into ongoing policy and programming around community based primary health care, emergency response, cultural promotion and preservation, health planning, and monitoring and surveillance. read more…

Interested in graduate work in the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group (CCARG)?

2015 August 6

I am seeking PhD and Masters students on a variety of projects I lead on the human dimensions of climate change, focusing on climate change vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation at community to global scales. read more…

IHACC project leads in Bwindi and Kampala to discuss next steps for IHACC in Uganda

2015 July 27

IHACC team with Makerere University's Geography Department in Kampala

IHACC team in Buhoma

IHACC project leads Dr. James Ford, Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, and Dr. Sherilee Harper were in Uganda this week with Dr. Shuaib Lwasa and Didacus Namanya for a series of project meetings in Buhoma and Kampala, and partner community visits in and around Bwindi.
read more…

Protective Factors For Mental Health And Well-Being In A Changing Climate: Perspectives From Inuit Youth In Nunatsiavut, Labrador

2015 July 26

Petrasek MacDonald, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Ford, J.D., Shiwak, I., Wood, M., the IMHACC Team, and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (In Press). Access PDF here. Social Science & Medicine.

The Canadian Arctic is experiencing rapid changes in climatic conditions, with implications for Inuit communities widely documented. Youth have been identified as an at-risk population, with likely impacts on mental health and well-being. This study identifies and characterizes youth-specific protective factors that enhance well-being in light of a rapidly changing climate, and examines how climatic and environmental change challenges these. In-depth conversational interviews were conducted with youth aged 15-25 from the five communities of the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador, Canada: Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet. Five key protective factors were identified as enhancing their mental health and well-being: being on the land; connecting to Inuit culture; strong communities; relationships with family and friends; and staying busy. Changing sea ice and weather conditions were widely reported to be compromising these protective factors by reducing access to the land, and increasing the danger of land-based activities. This study contributes to existing work on Northern climate change adaptation by identifying factors that enhance youth resilience and, if incorporated into adaptation strategies, may contribute to creating successful and effective adaptation responses.

Notes from the field: An update from the Evaluating Indigenous Vulnerability and Adaptation Research (EIVAR) project

2015 July 23

Update by Tom Marcello.

Arriving for an interview in the Shawi community of Nuevo Progreso, Mya Sherman and I are greeted by the entire family. Catching the family while they are home during the day can sometimes require a few visits, as the whole family unit frequently goes together to work in their chakra (agricultural field), which can be more than an hour’s walk away. When we are lucky enough to find a family, we are immediately invited to sit down. A clay bowl called a mocahua is soon presented to each of us and we begin to consume the masato that lies inside. read more…

Climate change research within Regional Environmental Change

2015 July 21

Ford, J.D. 2015. View PDF here. Regional Environmental Change. 15(6), 1035-1038.

Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptations in Canadian Arctic Communities

2015 July 16

Champalle, C., Ford, J.D., and Sherman, M. 2015. Access PDF here. Sustainability. 7:9268-9292.


Arctic regions are experiencing the most rapid climate change globally and adaptation has been identified as a priority across scales. Anticipatory planning to adapt to the impacts of climate change usually follows a number of steps: assess current and future vulnerability, identify potential adaptations, prioritize options, implement prioritized options, and monitor and evaluate implementation. While most of these steps are well documented, there has been limited examination of the process of adaptation prioritization in Arctic communities. In this paper, we build upon existing tools and propose a framework for prioritizing adaptation options and guiding decision-making for implementation in Arctic regions. Using four adaptation performance criteria (timescale, equity, sustainability and total costs) to evaluate options through a multi-criteria decision analysis coupled with a network centric approach, our Adaptation Prioritization Framework promotes a participatory approach for adaptation prioritization and planning. We illustrate application of the framework using a hypothetical example from the territory of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic.

Climate-sensitive health priorities in Nunatsiavut, Canada

2015 July 2

Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Wood, M., IHACC Reseach Team, RICG and McEwen, S.A. 2015. Access PDF here. BMC Public Health. 15:605


Background: This exploratory study used participatory methods to identify, characterize, and rank climate-sensitive health priorities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada.
Methods: A mixed method study design was used and involved collecting both qualitative and quantitative data at regional, community, and individual levels. In-depth interviews with regional health representatives were conducted throughout Nunatsiavut (n = 11). In addition, three PhotoVoice workshops were held with Rigolet community members (n = 11), where participants took photos of areas, items, or concepts that expressed how climate change is impacting their health. The workshop groups shared their photographs, discussed the stories and messages behind them, and then grouped photos into re-occurring themes. Two community surveys were administered in Rigolet to capture data on observed climatic and environmental changes in the area, and perceived impacts on health, wellbeing, and lifestyles (n = 187).
Results: Climate-sensitive health pathways were described in terms of inter-relationships between environmental and social determinants of Inuit health. The climate-sensitive health priorities for the region included food security, water security, mental health and wellbeing, new hazards and safety concerns, and health services and delivery.
Conclusions: The results highlight several climate-sensitive health priorities that are specific to the Nunatsiavut region, and suggest approaching health research and adaptation planning from an EcoHealth perspective.
Keywords: Canada, Climate change, Health, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, EcoHealth

CCARG at the Our Common Future Under Climate Change Conference in Paris France, 7-10 July 2015

2015 June 29

Dr. James Ford and Anna Bunce will we presenting at the Our Common Futures Under Climate Change Conference. Organized under the umbrella of ICSU, Future Earth, UNESCO and major French research institutions, with the support of the French Government, the Conference will be held ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which is planned to take place in Paris later this year. Building on the results of IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5), the Conference will address key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change. Organized around daily themes, the event will focus on moving from present knowledge to future solutions.

For more information, see the list of our team’s planned activities read more…

Notes from the field: Jolène Labbé in Iqaluit, Nunavut

2015 June 23

Jolène out hiking on the tundra. Photo by Jolène Labbé.

Jolène Labbé (CCARG and TRAC3 research team member) recently returned from a two-week research trip to Iqaluit, Nunavut where she spoke with a variety of decision-makers, policy creators and project managers from nearly all Government of Nunavut Departments to help understand the role both climate change and adaptation play in policy, planning and decision-making within the territory. This is part of a larger joint CCARG/TRAC3 Evaluating adaptation to Climate Change in Nunavut, Canada research project working in partnership with the Climate Change Section of the Government of Nunavut that aims to describe the current state of adaptation to climate change in Nunavut and evaluate adaptation readiness at the federal, territorial, and community levels. The goal is to use a combination of baseline adaptation data and interviews with key stakeholders to provide a ‘big picture’ understanding of the current climate change adaptation landscape within Nunavut. It focuses on understanding factors such as institutional organization, decision-making, funding, stakeholder engagement, partnerships and communication, and Inuit Qaujimanituqangit among other things. Throughout the summer, Jolène will continue key stakeholder interviews with individuals from the federal government departments. read more…

Mya Sherman featured in National Geographic article on Amazonian biodiversity, health and livelihoods

2015 June 19

Mya Sherman, who conducted her M.A. in Geography from 2012-2014 with a Shipibo community as a component of IHACC research in Peru, and who had been working with the project since 2011, was interviewed a few weeks ago by National Geographic Explorer Barbara Fraser while in the country. The story, featuring Mya and other researchers, can be found here.

read more…

Notes from the field: Melanie Flynn in Arviat, Nunavut

2015 June 19

Research graduate trainee and TRAC3 team member, Melanie Flynn has just arrived back from spending four weeks in the community of Arviat, located on the west coast of Hudson Bay. Melanie was conducting semi-structured interviews in order to evaluate a Terrain Analysis project which has been ongoing in the community over that past four years. The Terrain project has been mapping ground movement in Arviat and six other Nunavut communities to determine future development suitability.

A view of Arviat from the sea ice. Photo by Melanie Flynn.

read more…

Looking back at the IHACC Annual Meeting 2015, hosted by the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

2015 June 18

IHACC team at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

This year, the IHACC Annual Meetings were hosted by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford (IHACC Primary Investigators Dr. Ford and Dr. Berrang-Ford’s alma mater) on May 27th to the 29th. The event was a great opportunity for team members form across regions to come together, be reflexive of what IHACC has achieved over the last four years, and work on a solid strategy for the project as it enters into its final year. Team members also had the opportunity to catch up, visit the many Colleges, gardens and meadows in and around the University, and have a taste of typical British foods. read more…