ARCPATH: Arctic Climate Predictions: Pathways to Resilient, Sustainable Societies

Focus on changes that will happen in the near future, with the overarching goal of fostering responsible and sustainable development.


Overarching goals:

1) To improve Arctic climate prediction by using innovative methods to capture both anthropogenic and natural factors in global and high-resolution regional models;

2) To increase understanding and reduce uncertainties regarding how changes in climate interact with multiple societal factors including the development of local and regional adaptation measures; and

3) To supply this knowledge  as  potential  “pathways  to  action”  to  the  specific Arctic regions singled out for special focus in the project.

ARCPATH will establish a creative, innovative and cross-disciplinary Nordic Centre of Excellence with a primary focus on the opportunities and challenges involved in promoting responsible and sustainable development in Arctic regions. ARCPATH will address the overall objective of the NordForsk call for the “Responsible Development of the Arctic: Opportunities and Challenges” with the corollary - “Pathways to Action”.

Project Summary

A key objective in ARCPATH as a multidisciplinary project is to use downscaled predictions to better understand and assess, and thereby reduce and prepare for, risks with shipping in sea-ice infested  and potentially stormier waters, with extreme weather conditions, in a region largely unprepared to cope with major environmental accidents such as oil spills at sea.

Such predictions for ocean temperatures are also urgently needed to design adaptive strategies in fisheries facing rapidly-changing migratory behaviour of fish stocks and cetaceans, posing uncertainty and direct  economic risks to fishing communities  and  marine   tourism. Furthermore, fishing operations, not least small-scale fishing, and whale watching are highly climate-sensitive activities, and in northern waters also greatly reliant on favourable sea and weather conditions.

ARCPATH results will include:

i) Improved global climate prediction through the use of precise initial conditions of cryosphere and ocean state using two Earth System Models (ESM);

ii) Enhanced understanding of internal climate variability in the Arctic and its regional impacts;

iii) Improved Arctic climate prediction by dynamic downscaling (Arctic regional climate model) with input from  initialized  predictions  using  global ESMs;

iv) Analyses of socio-economic challenges and opportunities arising from increased industrial activity in the Arctic, as well as evaluations concerning how potential climate-driven physical and ecosystem changes may affect economic activities and human welfare in Arctic coastal communities, with emphasis on a variety of separate but inter-related, issues such as: fisheries; marine-mammal distribution, increased shipping, tourism, and gender issues;

v) Analyses of regional societal effects of reduced sea-ice cover and sea-level rise, and local and regional adaptation measures to such changes,  including resource management, preparedness and security;

vi) Information regarding correlations between reduced sea-ice cover and industrial interests in the region, and the physical and technical challenges posed by a summer-open Arctic Ocean;

vii) Reconstructions of climate and sea-ice records back to AD 1700 to aid in understanding the role of internal variability.

The consortium and the international collaborators have the cumulative expertise and resources necessary to undertake this multidisciplinary research project and  provide new knowledge concerning integrated atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere changes with reduced uncertainties. It will, in turn, contribute to better sustainable management and adaptation to environmental pressures, risks, and opportunities in selected Arctic communities.

The long-term impacts of ARCPATH will be to link climate prediction with management and policy, and to build needed capacity in climate services, through the education of young scientists, and the development of systems tailored to better predict Arctic climate change and its socio-economic consequences

Project Details
Funding Agency: 
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
François Counillon
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: