Antonia Sohns returns from Umea, Sweden

2017 June 29

Antonia Sohns recently returned from the ninth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS) hosted by Umea University in Umea, Sweden. ICASS IX had the theme “People and Place” as it focused on the more than four million people living in the Arctic and the extensive changes impacting the people and places in the north today. During the conference Antonia presented her work on water security in the Arctic that highlights typologies of water security due to contextual factors, such as governance, economics and biophysical characteristics.

Image taken by Arcum - Umea University

Image taken by Arcum – Umea University

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Managing Climate Change Risks in Africa – A Global Perspective

2017 June 27

Adenle, A.A., Ford, J.D., et al. (2017) Managing Climate Change Risks in Africa – A Global Perspective. Ecological Economics, 141, 190-201.


Africa is projected to experience diverse and severe impacts of climate change. The need to adapt is increasingly recognized, from the community level to regional and national governments to the donor community, yet adaptation faces many constraints, particularly in low income settings. This study documents and examines the challenges facing adaptation in Africa, drawing upon semi-structured interviews (n = 337) with stakeholders including high-level stakeholders, continent-wide and across scales: in national government and UN agencies, academia, donors, non-governmental organizations, farmers and extension officers. Four key concerns about adaptation emerge: i) Climate data, scenarios and impacts models are insufficient for supporting adaptation, particularly as they relate to food systems and rural livelihoods; ii) The adaptation response to-date has been limited, fragmented, divorced from national planning processes, and with limited engagement with local expertise; iii) Adaptation policies and programs are too narrowly focused on explicit responses to climate change rather than responses to climate variability or broader development issues; and iv) Adaptation finance is insufficient, and procedures for accessing it present challenges to governments capacities. As a response to these concerns, we propose the 4-Cs framework which places adaptation for Africa at the center of climate projections, climate education, climate governance and climate finance, with corresponding responsibilities for government and non-government actors.

Dylan Clark returns from Arivat, Nunavut

2017 June 19

Dylan Clark recently returned from a month long trip to Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat, is one of the many Arctic communities that the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group has been working in for a number of years. Past students have examined food security, the integration of community input into infrastructure planning, and search and rescue in and around the community. Dylan has been working in Arviat for the past two years to better understand emergency management systems, and develop community-based solutions to improve resiliency and build tools for emergency response.


Dylan and team practiced flying the UAV at low altitudes to map terrain and practice spotting targets. All flights were adherent to Transport Canada UAV regulations.

Dylan and team practiced flying the UAV at low altitudes to map terrain and practice spotting targets. All flights were adherent to Transport Canada UAV regulations.

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Climate change adaptation in the Sahel

2017 June 14

Epule T.E., Ford, J.D., Lwasab S., Lepage, L. (2017) Climate change adaptation in the Sahel. Environmental Science & Policy, 75, 121-137.


Climate change adaptation now occupies central stage on the agenda of most environmental initiatives in Africa. Our current understanding on the state of adaptation is limited, however, both globally and in Africa in particular. This study examines the status of adaptation in the Sahel by reviewing the primary peer review literature that reports concrete climate change adaptation actions. Based on an analysis of 70 peer review papers that document 414 discrete adaptations, we create a snap shot of adaptations developed between 1975 and 2015, and also calculate the percentages of adaptation. The results show that from a country to country perspective, Kenya has the highest number of reported adaptation actions (75 or 18.1%). The percentages indicate that the adaptive capacity of the entire study area is generally low for all the countries being that the highest country-level percentage is recorded in Kenya and it is 18%. Regionally, West Africa has more adaptation actions (261 or 63%) when compared to other regions of the Sahel. Regional level percentages suggest a higher level of adaptation at the regional level being that the percentage falls within the high scale range. The most commonly used adaptation actions reported are income diversification and water harnessing respectively. When categorized, technically related adaptation actions dominate the adaptation charts. The decade 2008–2016 recorded the highest number of adaptations (65.2%). Adaptation actions are also reported to be triggered by climatic and non-climatic drivers which both record high frequencies but the climatic drivers (98%) of adaptation are slightly dominant relative to the non-climatic drivers (95%). These results should be viewed as proxies of climate change adaptation as much information may be found in grey literature and non-peer review national communications which are left out here because of their relative low standardization and acceptability due to the absence of peer review.

Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment

2017 May 25

Fawcett, D., Pearce, T., Ford, J.D., Archer, L. (2017) Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment. Global Environmental Change, 45, 79-88.


The past decade has seen a proliferation of community-scale climate change vulnerability assessments globally. Much of this work has employed frameworks informed by scholarship in the vulnerability field, which draws upon interviews with community members to identify and characterize climatic risks and adaptive responses. This scholarship has developed a baseline understanding of vulnerability in specific places and industries at particular times. However, given the dynamic nature of vulnerability new methodologies are needed to generate insights on how climate change is experienced and responded to over time. Longitudinal approaches have long been used in sociology and the health sciences to capture the dynamism of human processes, but their penetration into vulnerability research has been limited. In this article, we describe the application of two longitudinal approaches, cohort and trend studies, in climate change vulnerability assessment by analyzing three case studies from the Arctic where the authors applied these approaches. These case studies highlight how longitudinal approaches can be operationalized to capture the dynamism of vulnerability by identifying climate anomalies and trends, and how adaptations develop over time, including insights on themes such as social learning and adaptive pathways.