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The Project: Context

Climate change in the Arctic

Arctic peoples today face impacts from global change, including climate change. Climate change is expected to cause important environmental changes in the Arctic, including a significant rise in average temperatures and changes in the frequency of extreme events such as polar haze, prevailing winds, precipitation, and water levels. These in turn affect ecosystems and resources on which societies depend, influencing the expansion and decline of animal and plant populations, invasion of alien species, and appearance of human and animal diseases. Climate change scenarios predict that Arctic areas will be subject to greater warming than the rest of Eurasia. Indeed, over the last fifty years, the increase in temperatures in the Arctic is double the increase observed elsewhere on earth. In the last two decades, animals and plants are spreading to more northern latitudes and higher altitudes, and further distribution shifts are expected as warming continues.

Arctic and Subarctic societies are facing major economic and social impacts from these environmental transformations, as their livelihoods are closely linked to the environment. The majority of the indigenous population of the Arctic is completely or partly dependent on the natural environment for their subsistence. Even minor environmental changes may have significant impacts on the social, economic and cultural lives of indigenous peoples and may put in jeopardy their very existence.

Indigenous peoples living in close relationship with their environment are excellent observers of climate change impacts. The BRISK project contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of climate change and its impacts by bringing together indigenous and scientific observations and knowledge.

By Nakashima, D., Lavrillier, A. and Roue, M. (2014)