Anthropogenic Heat Islands in the Arctic: Windows to the Future of the Regional Climates, Ecosystems, and Societies

The Arctic is a rapidly changing region where new economic opportunities meet geopolitical interests and the accelerated climate change. These three intertwined components concentrate in the arctic cities – a remote constellation of the cold frontier settlements, some of them as large as 300 thousands dwellers. The Arctic is rapidly urbanizing attracting worker migrants from southern latitudes, sometimes from as far south as Philippines (to Canada) and Tajikistan (to Russia).

Population changes in Arctic settlements from 2000 to 2010. Source NORDREGIO.Population changes in Arctic settlements from 2000 to 2010. Source NORDREGIO.In parallel with the economic development, large-scale changes in climate and ecosystems are observed in the Arctic. The climate warms, snow and sea ice retreat, permafrost thaws, whereas the more southern ecosystems advance northward. Nowhere those changes are more visible and more influential than within the urbanized areas. In the Arctic cities, the urban heat island creates remarkably warmer climate – something corresponding to the expected Arctic warming by the mid- or even the end of the XXIst century.

These large-scale and persistent urban climate change open unique opportunities to look at the physical and biological processes and feedbacks emerging in the warmer and more connected arctic region already now. Moreover, the urban climate change goes hand by hand with societal processes. The physical changes are determined by the attitude of the urban population to the Arctic environment. Having limited knowledge, experience and connections with the polar climate and landscapes, the migrant workers implement external “extractivism” agenda living behind polluted territories, depleted resources and the ghost towns themselves.

In other words, more sustainable and forward looking approach to the arctic urban development is needed on the basis of better understanding of the physical Arctic climate change and its impact on the urban ecosystems and environmental connections within the urban societies.

Given to the importance of the Arctic nexus agenda in the changing climate, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre organizes a public information workshop to present the results of the international Belmont Forum project “Anthropogenic Heat Islands in the Arctic: Windows to the Future of the Regional Climates, Ecosystems, and Societies”.

A public workshop is orgainzed at the Nansen Center, Thormøhlens gate 47 at Marineholmen on March 21st, 2017, 11:00 – 13:00 in the lecture room. The workshop will demonstrate:

  • Multidirectional wide-spread changes in the productivity and composition of the Arctic ecosystems, observed by satellites since 2000
  • Large magnitude of the urban heat islands corresponding to similar climates 300-600 further south from the Arctic places
  • Severe consequences of the “knowledge gaps” and the traditional ecological knowledge disconnection for the Arctic urban development
  • New opportunities to create a more sustainable, more resilient, more effective Arctic urban solutions breaking the short-term exploitation of resources leading towards innovative long-term development.