By Thomas R. Armstrong, AACA, President, Madison River Group LLC, and
Lars-Otto Reiersen, Executive Secretary, AMAP, and
Robert W. Corell, Chair, ACIA, Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation
The Arctic is a rapidly changing, multifaceted system that includes socio-economic and natural living and non-living resources in which both change and the rate of change are significantly increasing. It is one of the few systems on the planet where the consequences of human-induced climate change can be readily observed.
In order to combat and ameliorate impending changes, the focus of our collective efforts now must shift to enhancing resilience in both natural and human systems (ie, communities). While developing and deploying a long-term plan for reducing carbon pollution to and from the atmosphere, in the short term we also need to prepare for and adapt to the inevitable impacts and effects of the one stressor that directly impacts all of the Arctic and also exacerbates the other stressors: climate change.
It is in the area of adaptation where a wide array of potential actions to combat climate change exist at all scales and at all levels of decision-making. Thus, the focus of the Arctic Council’s Adaptation Actions in a Changing Arctic (AACA) project is on identifying and assessing change drivers, including climate. AACA provides a robust, pan-Arctic set of more detailed regional scientific assessments focused on understanding the types and causes of related changes, their impacts and effects generated within or impacting the Arctic, as well as future projections, options and scenarios aimed at understanding future changes. This scientific information, along with other forms of traditional and local knowledge, is then integrated into a more comprehensive knowledge base that is of use to a multitude of decision-makers. This knowledge base is used by decision-makers at all scales for supporting present and future adaptation actions. It is these actions that will promote increased resilience, health and welfare of the the Arctic and its diverse and vital communities as well as its living and non-living resources.
Ultimately, AACA will also include adaptive management components, communication and education elements, and various forms of decision support. These will allow decision performance evaluation, educational and social outreach and more effective decision-making in a sustained manner, within and across all of the Arctic’s communities that are already or will be affected by impending forms of change.