1567
28
Polar Regions
Coordinating Lead Authors:
Joan Nymand Larsen (Iceland), Oleg A. Anisimov (Russian Federation)
Lead Authors:
Andrew Constable (Australia), Anne B. Hollowed (USA), Nancy Maynard (USA), Pål Prestrud
(Norway), Terry D. Prowse (Canada), John M.R. Stone (Canada)
Contributing Authors:
Terry V. Callaghan (UK), Mark Carey (USA), Peter Convey (UK), Andrew Derocher (Canada),
Bruce C. Forbes (Finland), Peter T. Fretwell (UK), Solveig Glomsrød (Norway), Dominic Hodgson
(UK), Eileen Hofmann (USA), Grete K. Hovelsrud (Norway), Gita L. Ljubicic (Canada),
Harald Loeng (Norway), Eugene Murphy (UK), Steve Nicol (Australia), Anders Oskal (Norway),
James D. Reist (Canada), Phil Trathan (UK), Barbara Weinecke (Australia), Fred Wrona
(Canada)
Review Editors:
Maria Ananicheva (Russian Federation), F. Stuart Chapin III (USA)
Volunteer Chapter Scientist:
Vasiliy Kokorev (Russian Federation)
This chapter should be cited as:
Larsen
, J.N., O.A. Anisimov, A. Constable, A.B. Hollowed, N. Maynard, P. Prestrud, T.D. Prowse, and J.M.R. Stone, 2014:
Polar regions. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution
of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R.,
C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova,
B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1567-1612.
28
1568
Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................................................... 1570
28.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................................................... 1572
28.2. Observed Changes and Vulnerability under Multiple Stressors ........................................................................... 1572
28.2.1. Hydrology and Freshwater Ecosystems ........................................................................................................................................... 1572
28.2.1.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1572
28.2.1.2. Antarctic .......................................................................................................................................................................... 1573
28.2.2. Oceanography and Marine Ecosystems .......................................................................................................................................... 1574
28.2.2.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1574
28.2.2.2. Antarctica ........................................................................................................................................................................ 1576
28.2.3. Terrestrial Ecosystems ..................................................................................................................................................................... 1577
28.2.3.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1577
28.2.3.2. Antarctica ........................................................................................................................................................................ 1581
28.2.4. Health and Well-being of Arctic Residents ...................................................................................................................................... 1581
28.2.4.1. Direct Impacts of a Changing Climate on the Health of Arctic Residents ........................................................................ 1581
28.2.4.2. Indirect Impacts of Climate Change on the Health of Arctic Residents ............................................................................ 1582
28.2.5. Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Knowledge .............................................................................................................................. 1583
28.2.6. Economic Sectors ............................................................................................................................................................................ 1584
28.2.6.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1584
28.2.6.2. Antarctica and the Southern Ocean ................................................................................................................................. 1585
28.3. Key Projected Impacts and Vulnerabilities ........................................................................................................... 1586
28.3.1. Hydrology and Freshwater Ecosystems ........................................................................................................................................... 1586
28.3.1.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1586
28.3.1.2. Antarctica ........................................................................................................................................................................ 1586
28.3.2. Oceanography and Marine Ecosystems .......................................................................................................................................... 1587
28.3.2.1. Ocean Acidification in the Arctic and Antarctic ................................................................................................................ 1587
28.3.2.2. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1587
28.3.2.3. Antarctica and the Southern Ocean ................................................................................................................................. 1589
28.3.3. Terrestrial Environment and Related Ecosystems ............................................................................................................................ 1589
28.3.3.1. Arctic ............................................................................................................................................................................... 1589
28.3.3.2. Antarctica ........................................................................................................................................................................ 1590
28.3.4. Economic Sectors ............................................................................................................................................................................ 1590
28.3.4.1. Fisheries .......................................................................................................................................................................... 1590
28.3.4.2. Forestry and Farming ....................................................................................................................................................... 1591
28.3.4.3. Infrastructure, Transportation, and Terrestrial Resources ................................................................................................. 1591
Table of Contents
1569
Polar Regions Chapter 28
28
28.4. Human Adaptation ................................................................................................................................................ 1593
28.5. Research and Data Gaps ....................................................................................................................................... 1595
References ....................................................................................................................................................................... 1596
Frequently Asked Questions
28.1: What will be the net socioeconomic impacts of change in the polar regions? ............................................................................... 1595
28.2: Why are changes in sea ice so important to the polar regions? ...................................................................................................... 1596
1570
Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
Executive Summary
Additional and stronger scientific evidence has accumulated since the AR4 that reinforces key findings made in the Fourth Assessment Report
(AR4).
The impacts of climate change, and the adaptations to it, exhibit strong spatial heterogeneity in the polar regions because of the
high diversity of social systems, biophysical regions, and associated drivers of change (high confidence). {28.2.2} For example, the
tree line has moved northward and upward in many, but not all, Arctic areas (high confidence) and significant increases in tall shrubs and
grasses have been observed in many places (very high confidence). {28.2.3.1.2}
Some marine species will shift their ranges in response to changing ocean and sea ice conditions in the polar regions (medium
confidence). The response rate and the spatial extent of the shifts will differ by species based on their vulnerability to change and their life
history. {28.2.2, 28.3.2} Loss of sea ice in summer and increased ocean temperatures are expected to impact secondary pelagic production in
some regions of the Arctic Ocean, with associated changes in the energy pathways within the marine ecosystem (medium confidence). These
changes are expected to alter the species composition of zooplankton in some regions, with associated impacts on some fish and shellfish
populations (medium confidence). {28.2.2.1} Also, changes in sea ice and the physical environment to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula are
altering phytoplankton stocks and productivity, and krill (high confidence). {28.2.2.2}
Climate change is impacting terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in some areas of Antarctica and the Arctic. This is due to
ecological effects resulting from reductions in the duration and extent of ice and snow cover and enhanced permafrost thaw (very high
confidence), and through changes in the precipitation-evaporation balance (medium confidence). {28.2.1, 28.2.3}
The primary concern for polar bears over the foreseeable future is the recent and projected loss of annual sea ice cover, decreased
ice duration, and decreased ice thickness (high confidence).
Of the two subpopulations where data are adequate for assessing abundance
effects, it is very likely that the recorded population declines are caused by reductions in sea ice extent. {28.2.2.1.2, 28.3.2.2.2}
Rising temperatures, leading to the further thawing of permafrost, and changing precipitation patterns have the potential to
affect infrastructure and related services in the Arctic (high confidence). {28.3.4.3} Particular concerns are associated with damage to
residential buildings resulting from thawing permafrost, including Arctic cities; small, rural settlements; and storage facilities for hazardous
materials. {28.2.4-5}
In addition, there is new scientific evidence that has emerged since the AR4.
The physical, biological, and socioeconomic impacts of climate change in the Arctic have to be seen in the context of often
interconnected factors that include not only environmental changes caused by drivers other than climate change but also
demography, culture, and economic development.
Climate change has compounded some of the existing vulnerabilities caused by these
other factors (high confidence). {28.2.4-5, 28.4} For example, food security for many Indigenous and rural residents in the Arctic is being
impacted by climate change, and in combination with globalization and resource development food insecurity is projected to increase in the
future (high confidence). {28.2.4}
The rapid rate at which climate is changing in the polar regions will impact natural and social systems (high confidence) and may
exceed the rate at which some of their components can successfully adapt (low to medium confidence). {28.2.4, 28.4}
The decline
of Arctic sea ice in summer is occurring at a rate that exceeds most of the earlier generation model projections (high confidence), and evidence
of similarly rapid rates of change is emerging in some regions of Antarctica. {WGI AR5 Chapters 4, 5, 9} In the future, trends in polar regions of
populations of marine mammals, fish, and birds will be a complex response to multiple stressors and indirect effects (high confidence). {28.3.2}
Already, accelerated rates of change in permafrost thaw, loss of coastal sea ice, sea level rise, and increased weather intensity are forcing
relocation of some Indigenous communities in Alaska (high confidence). {28.2.4.2, 28.2.5, 28.3.4}
1571
28
Polar Regions Chapter 28
Shifts in the timing and magnitude of seasonal biomass production could disrupt matched phenologies in the food webs, leading
to decreased survival of dependent species (medium confidence).
If the timing of primary and secondary production is no longer
matched to the timing of spawning or egg release, survival could be impacted, with cascading implications to higher trophic levels. This impact
would be exacerbated if shifts in timing occur rapidly (medium confidence). {28.2.2, 28.3.2} Climate change will increase the vulnerability of
terrestrial ecosystems to invasions by non-indigenous species, the majority likely to arrive through direct human assistance (high confidence).
Ocean acidification has the potential to inhibit embryo development and shell formation of some zooplankton and krill in the
polar regions, with potentially far-reaching consequences to food webs in these regions (medium confidence). Embryos of Antarctic
krill have been shown to be vulnerable to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO
2
) in the water (high confidence). As well, there is
increasing evidence that pelagic molluscs (pteropods) are vulnerable to ocean acidification (medium confidence). {28.2.2, 28.3.2}
There is increased evidence that climate change will have large effects on Arctic communities, especially where narrowly based
economies leave a smaller range of adaptive choices. {28.2.6.1, 28.4} Some commercial activities will become more profitable while
others will face decline. Increased economic opportunities are expected with increased navigability in the Arctic Ocean and the expansion of
some land- and freshwater-based transportation networks. {28.2.6.1.3, 28.3.4.3} The informal, subsistence-based economy will be impacted
(high confidence). There is high confidence that changing sea ice conditions may result in more difficult access for hunting marine mammals.
{28.2.6.1.6} Although Arctic residents have a history of adapting to change, the complex interlinkages among societal, economic, and political
factors and climatic stresses represent unprecedented challenges for northern communities, particularly if the rate of change will be faster than
the social systems can adapt (high confidence). {28.2.5, 28.4}
Impacts on the health and well-being of Arctic residents from climate change are significant and projected to increase—especially
for many Indigenous peoples (high confidence). {28.2.4} These impacts are expected to vary among the diverse settlements, which range
from small, remote, predominantly Indigenous communities to large cities and industrial settlements (high confidence), especially those in
highly vulnerable locations along ocean and river shorelines. {28.2.4}
1572
Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
28.1. Introduction
Several recent climate impact assessments on polar regions have been
undertaken, including the synthesis report on Snow, Water, Ice and
P
ermafrost in the Arctic (AMAP, 2011a), the State of the Arctic Coast
2010 (2011) reports, the Antarctic Climate and the Environment (Turner
et al., 2009, 2013), Arctic Resilience Interim Report 2013 (2013), and
the findings of the International Polar Year (IPY; Krupnick et al., 2011).
These reports draw a consistent pattern of climate-driven environmental,
societal, and economic changes in the polar regions in recent decades.
In this chapter, we use the scientific literature, including these reports,
to consolidate the assessment of the impacts of climate change on polar
regions from 2007, advance new scientific evidence of impacts, and
identify key gaps in knowledge on current and future impacts. Previous
IPCC reports define the Arctic as the area within the Arctic Circle (66ºN),
and the Antarctic as the continent with surrounding Southern Ocean
south of the polar front, which is generally close to 58ºS (IPCC, 2007).
For the purpose of this report we use the conventional IPCC definitions
as a basis, while incorporating a degree of flexibility when describing
the polar regions in relation to particular subjects.
Changes in the physical and chemical environments of the polar regions
are detailed in the WGI contribution to the AR5. There is evidence that
Arctic land surface temperatures have warmed substantially since the
mid-20th century, and the futurerate of warming is expected to exceed
the global rate. Sea ice extent at the summer minimum has decreased
significantly in recent decades, and the Arctic Ocean is projected to
become nearly ice free in summer within this century. The duration of
snow cover extent and snow depth are decreasing in North America while
i
ncreasing in Eurasia. Since the late 1970s, permafrost temperatures
have increased between 0.5°C and 2°C. In the Southern Hemisphere,
the strongest rates of atmospheric warming are occurring in the western
Antarctic Peninsula (WAP, between 0.2°C and 0.3°C per decade) and
the islands of the Scotia Arc, where there have also been increases in
oceanic temperatures and large regional decreases in winter sea ice
extent and duration. Warming, although less than WAP, has also occurred
in the continental margins near the Bellingshausen Sea, Prydz Bay, and
the Ross Sea, with areas of cooling in between. Land regions have
experienced glacial recession and changes in the ice and permafrost
habitats in the coastal margins. The Southern Ocean continues to warm,
with increased freshening at the surface due to precipitation leading to
increased stratification. In both polar regions, as a result of acidification,
surface waters will become seasonally corrosive to aragonite within
decades, with some regions being affected sooner than others (see
Box CC-OA; WGI AR5 Chapter 6). Observations and models indicate that
the carbon cycle of the Arctic and Southern Oceans will be impacted by
climate change and increased carbon dioxide (CO
2
).
28.2. Observed Changes and Vulnerability
under Multiple Stressors
28.2.1. Hydrology and Freshwater Ecosystems
28.2.1.1. Arctic
Arctic rivers and lakes continue to show pronounced changes to their
hydrology and ecology. Previously noted increases in Eurasian Arctic
Sea-bed depths
Shipping
route
September
sea ice
Tree
line
Continuous
permafrost
Glaciated land
Non-glaciated land
3000+
1000
500
–7000
–1000
–3000–5000
Depth (m)
Height (m)
–200
200
2000
Figure 28-1| Location maps of the north and south polar regions (courtesy of P. Fretwell, British Antarctic Survey).
1573
Polar Regions Chapter 28
28
r
iver flow (1936–1999; Peterson et al., 2002) could not, for a similar
period (1951–2000), be attributed with certainty to precipitation
changes (Milliman et al., 2008) but has been, including more recent
extreme increases (2007), attributed to enhanced poleward atmospheric
moisture transport (Zhang et al., 2013). By contrast, decreased flow in
high-latitude Canadian rivers (1964–2000; average –10%) does match
that for precipitation (Déry and Wood, 2005). Recent data (1977–2007)
for 19 circumpolar rivers also indicate an area-weighted average increase
of +9.8% (–17.1 to 47.0%; Overeem and Syvitski, 2010) accompanied
by shifts in flow timing, with May snowmelt increasing (avg. 66%) but
flow in the subsequent month of peak discharge decreasing (~7%).
Across the Russian Arctic, dates of spring maximum discharge have also
started to occur earlier, particularly in the most recent (1960–2001)
period analyzed (average –5 days; range for four regions +0.2 to –7.1
days), but no consistent trend exists for magnitude (average –1%; range
+21 to –24%; Shiklomanov et al., 2007). Earlier timing was most pro-
nounced in eastern, colder continental climates, where increases in air
temperature have been identified as the dominant control (Tan et al.,
2011).
Increases have also occurred in winter low flows for many Eurasian and
North American rivers (primarily in the late 20th century; Smith et al.,
2007; Walvoord and Striegl, 2007; St. Jacques and Sauchyn, 2009; Ye et
al., 2009), the key exceptions being decreases in eastern North America
and unchanged flow in small basins of eastern Eurasia (Rennermalm
et al., 2010). Most such studies suggest permafrost thaw (WGI AR5
Chapter 4) has increased winter flow, whereas others suggest increases
in net winter precipitation minus evapotranspiration (Rawlins et al.,
2009a,b; Landerer et al., 2010). Insufficient precipitation stations preclude
deciphering the relative importance of these factors (WGI AR5 Section
2.5.1).
The surface-water temperatures of large water bodies has warmed
(1985–2009; Schneider and Hook, 2010), particularly for mid- and high
latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, with spatial patterns generally
matching those for air temperature. Where water bodies warmed more
rapidly than air temperature, decreasing ice cover was suggested as
enhancing radiative warming. Paleolimnological evidence indicates that
the highest primary productivity was associated with warm, ice-free
summer conditions and the lowest with periods of perennial ice (Melles
et al., 2007). Increasing water temperatures affect planktonic and benthic
biomass and lead to changes in species composition (Christoffersen et
al., 2008; Heino et al., 2009, Jansson et al., 2010). Reduced ice cover
with higher air temperatures and evaporation are responsible for the
late-20th to early-21st century desiccation of some Arctic ponds (Smol
and Douglas, 2007).
Changes have occurred in the size and number of permafrost lakes over
the last half-century (Hinkel et al., 2007; Marsh et al., 2009), but their
patterns and rates of change are not consistent because of differing
thawing states, variations in warming, and effects of human activities
(Hinket et al., 2007; Prowse and Brown, 2010a). Thawing permafrost
affects the biogeochemistry of water entering lakes and rivers (Frey and
McClelland, 2009; Kokelj et al., 2009) and their ecological structure and
function (Lantz and Kokelj, 2008; Thompson et al., 2008; Mesquita et
al., 2010), such as enhancing eutrophication by a shift from pelagic to
benthic-dominated production (Thompson et al., 2012).
T
he aquatic ecosystem health and biodiversity of northern deltas is
dependent on combined changes in the elevation of spring river ice-
jam floods and sea level (Lesack and Marsh, 2007, 2010). Diminishing
ice shelves (last half-century) have also caused a decline in the number
of freshwater epishelf lakes that develop behind them (Veillette et al.,
2008; Vincent et al., 2009). Although such biophysical dependencies
have been established, temporal trends in such river-delta and epishelf
lake impacts and their linkages to changing climate remain to be
quantified precisely.
An interplay of freshwater-marine conditions also affects the timing,
growth, run size, and distribution of several Arctic freshwater and
anadromous fish. Key examples include the timing of marine exit of Yukon
River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha; 1961–2009) varied
with air and sea temperatures and sea ice cover (Mundy and Evenson,
2011); the growth of young-of-year Arctic cisco (Coregonus autumnalis;
1978–2004) varied in response to lagged sea ice concentration and
Mackenzie River discharge, also indicating that decreased sea ice
concentration and increased river discharge enhanced marine primary
production, leading to more favorable foraging conditions (von Biela et
al., 2011); and factors that influence the water level and freshening of
rivers, as well as the strength, duration, and directions of prevailing
coastal winds, affect survival of anadromous fishes during coastal
migration and their subsequent run size (Fechhelm et al., 2007).
28.2.1.2. Antarctic
Biota of Antarctic freshwater systems (lakes, ponds, short streams,
and seasonally wetted areas) are dominated by benthic microbial
communities of cyanobacteria and green algae in a simple food web.
Mosses occur in some continental lakes with higher plants absent.
Planktonic ecosystems are typically depauperate and include small algae,
bacteria, and colorless flagellates, with few metazoans and no fish
(Quesada and Velázquez, 2012). Recent compilations of single-year data
sets have reinforced previous conclusions on the changing freshwater
habitats in Antarctica (Verleyen et al., 2012). In regions where the climate
has warmed, the physical impacts on aquatic ecosystems include loss of
ice and perennial snow cover, increasing periods of seasonal open water,
increased water column temperatures, and changes in water column
stratification. In some areas, a negative water balance has occurred as
a result of increased temperature and changes in wind strength driving
enhanced evaporation and sublimation and leading to increased salinity
in lakes in recent decades (Hodgson et al., 2006a). In other areas,
especially glacial forelands, increased temperatures have led to greater
volumes of seasonal meltwater in streams and lakes together with
increased nutrient fluxes (high confidence). In both cases, the balance
between precipitation and evaporation can have detectable effects on
lake ecosystems (medium confidence) through changes in water body
volume and lake chemistry (Lyons et al., 2006; Quesada et al., 2006).
Non-dilute lakes with a low lake depth to surface area ratio are most
susceptible to interannual and inter-decadal variability in the water
balance, as measured by changes in specific conductance (high confidence;
Verleyen et al., 2012). Warming in the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula
region has resulted in permafrost degradation in the last approximately
50 years, impacting surface geomorphology and hydrology (Bockheim
et al., 2013) with the potential to increase soil biomass.
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Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
28.2.2. Oceanography and Marine Ecosystems
28.2.2.1. Arctic
2
8.2.2.1.1. Marine plankton, fish, and other invertebrates
WGI documented the expected physical and chemical changes that will
occur in Arctic marine ecosystems (WGI AR5 Chapters 4, 6, 11). Naturally
occurring interannual, decadal, and multi-decadal variations in climate
will continue to influence the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring high-
latitude seas (Chapter 5). In recent years (2007–2012), ocean conditions
in the Bering Sea have been cold (Stabeno et al., 2012a), while the
Barents Sea has been warm (Lind and Ingvaldsen, 2012).
In this section, we build on previous reviews of observed species responses
to climate (Wassman et al., 2011) to summarize the current evidence
of the impact of physical and chemical changes in marine systems on
the phenology, spatial distribution, and production of Arctic marine
species. For each type of response, the implications for phytoplankton,
zooplankton, fish, and shellfish are discussed. The implications of these
changes on marine ecosystem structure and function will be the result
of the synergistic effects of all three types of biological responses.
Phenological response
The timing of spring phytoplankton blooms is a function of seasonal light,
hydrographic conditions, and the timing of sea ice breakup (Wassman,
2011). In addition to the open water phytoplankton bloom, potentially
large ice algal blooms can form under the sea ice (Arrigo, 2012). During
the period 1997–2009, a trend toward earlier phytoplankton blooms
was detected in approximately 11% of the area of the Arctic Ocean
(Kahru et al., 2011). This advanced timing of annual phytoplankton
blooms coincided with decreased sea ice concentration in early summer.
Brown and Arrigo (2013) studied the timing and intensity of spring
blooms in the Bering Sea from 1997 to 2010 and found that in northern
regions sea ice consistently retreated in late spring and was associated
with ice-edge blooms, whereas in the southern regions the timing of
sea ice retreat varied, with ice-edge blooms associated with late ice
retreat, and open water blooms associated with early ice retreat. Given
the short time series and limited studies, there is medium confidence
that climate variability and change has altered the timing and the
duration of phytoplankton production.
The life cycles of calanoid copepods in the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea
are timed to utilize ice algal and phytoplankton blooms (Falk-Petersen
et al., 2009; Søreide et al., 2010; Darnis et al., 2012). Based on a
synthesis of existing data, Hunt, Jr. et al. (2011) hypothesized that, in
the southeastern Bering Sea, ocean conditions and the timing of sea
ice retreat influences the species composition of dominant zooplankton,
with lipid-rich copepods being more abundant in cold years.
There is ample evidence that the timing of spawning and hatching of
some fish and shellfish is aligned to match larval emergence with
seasonal increases in prey availability (Gjosaeter et al., 2009; Vikebø et
al., 2010; Bouchard and Fortier, 2011; Drinkwater et al., 2011). These
regional phenological adjustments to local conditions occurred over
m
any generations (Ormseth and Norcross, 2009; Geffen et al., 2011;
Kristiansen et al., 2011). There is medium to high confidence that climate-
induced disruptions in this synchrony can result in increased larval or
juvenile mortality or changes in the condition factor of fish and shellfish
species in the Arctic marine ecosystems.
O
bserved spatial shifts
Spatial heterogeneity in primary production has been observed (Lee et
al., 2010; Grebmeier, 2012). Simulation modeling studies show that
spatial differences in the abundance of four species of copepod can be
explained by regional differences in the duration of the growing season
and temperature (Ji et al., 2012). Retrospective studies based on surveys
from 1952 to 2005 in the Barents Sea revealed that changes in the
species composition, abundance, and distribution of euphausiids were
related to climate-related changes in oceanographic conditions (Zhukova
et al., 2009).
Retrospective analysis of observed shifts in the spatial distribution of
fish and shellfish species along latitudinal and depth gradients showed
observed spatial shifts were consistent with expected responses of
species to climate change (Simpson et al., 2011; Poloczanska et al.,
2013; see also Box CC-MB). Retrospective studies from the Bering Sea,
Barents Sea, and the northeast Atlantic Ocean and Icelandic waters
showed that fish shift their spatial distribution in response to climate
variability (i.e., interannual, decadal, or multi-decadal changes in ocean
temperature; Mueter and Litzow, 2008; Sundby and Nakken, 2008;
Hátún et al., 2009; Valdimarsson et al., 2012; Kotwicki and Lauth, 2013).
There are limits to the movement potential of some species. Vulnerability
assessments indicate that the movement of some sub-Arctic fish and
shellfish species into the Arctic Ocean may be impeded by the presence
of water temperatures on the shelves that fall below their thermal
tolerances (Hollowed et al., 2013; Hunt, Jr. et al., 2013). Coupled
biophysical models have reproduced the observed spatial dynamics of
some the species in the Bering and Barents Seas, and are being used to
explain the role of climate variability and change on the distribution
and abundance of some species (Huse and Ellingsen, 2008; Parada et
al., 2010). In summary, there is medium to high confidence based on
observations and modeling that some fish and shellfish have shifted their
distribution in response to climate impacts on the spatial distribution
and volume of suitable habitat.
Observed variations in production
Seasonal patterns in light, sea ice cover, freshwater input, stratification,
and nutrient exchange act in concert to produce temporal cycles of ice
algal and phytoplankton production in Arctic marine ecosystems
(Perrette et al., 2011; Wassmann, 2011; Tremblay et al., 2012). Satellite
observations and model estimates for the period 1988–2007 showed
that phytoplankton productivity increased in the Arctic Ocean in response
to a downward trend in the extent of summer sea ice (Zhang et al.,
2010). Satellite data provided evidence of a 20% increase in annual net
primary production in the Arctic Ocean between 1998 and 2009 in
response to extended ice-free periods (Arrigo and van Dijken, 2011).
Regional trends in primary production will differ in response to the
1575
Polar Regions Chapter 28
28
a
mount of open water area in summer (Arrigo and van Dijken, 2011).
Other studies showed gross primary production increased with increasing
air temperature in the Arctic Basin and Eurasian shelves (Slagstad et
al., 2011). A recent 5-year study (2004–2008) in the Canada Basin
showed that smaller phytoplankton densities were higher than larger
phytoplankton densities in years when sea surface temperatures (SSTs)
were warmer, the water column was more stratified, and nutrients were
more depleted during the Arctic summer (Li et al., 2009; Morán et al.,
2010). Additional observations will help to resolve observed differences
between in situ and satellite-derived estimates of primary production
(Matrai et al., 2013). In conclusion, based on recent observations and
modeling, there is medium to high confidence that primary production
has increased in the Arctic Ocean in response to changes in climate
and its impact on the duration and areal extent of ice-free periods in
summer.
Regional differences in zooplankton production have been observed.
During a period of ocean warming (1984–2010), Dalpadado et al. (2012)
observed an increase in the biomass of lipid-rich euphausiids in the
Barents Sea and relatively stable levels of biomass and production of
Calanus finmarchicus. In the Bering Sea, observations over the most
recent decade in the southeast Bering Sea showed C. marshallae were
more abundant in cold than in warm years (Coyle et al., 2011).
There is strong evidence that climate variability impacts the year-class
strength of Arctic marine fish and shellfish through its influence on
predation risk; the quality, quantity, and availability of prey; and
reproductive success (Mueter et al., 2007; Bakun 2010; Drinkwater et
al., 2010). Regional differences in the species responses to climate
change will be a function of the exposure of the species to changing
environmental conditions, the sensitivity of the species to these changes
(Beaugrand and Kirby, 2010), and the abilities of species to adapt to
changing conditions (Pörtner and Peck, 2010; Donelson et al., 2011).
There is high confidence that shifts in ocean conditions have impacted
the abundance of fish and shellfish in Arctic regions. Observed trends in
the abundance of commercial fish and shellfish may also be influenced
by historical patterns of exploitation (Vert-pre et al., 2013).
28.2.2.1.2. Marine mammals, polar bears, and seabirds
Studies on responses of Arctic and subarctic marine mammals to climate
change are limited and vary according to insight into their habitat
requirements and trophic relationships (Laidre et al., 2008). Many Arctic
and sub-Arctic marine mammals are highly specialized, have long life
spans, and are poorly adapted to rapid environmental change (Moore
and Huntington, 2008), and changes may be delayed until significant
sea ice loss has occurred (Freitas et al., 2008; Laidre et al., 2008).
Climate change effects on Arctic and sub-Arctic marine mammal
species will vary by life history, distribution, and habitat specificity (high
confidence). Climate change will improve conditions for a few species,
have minor negative effects for others, and some will suffer major
negative effects (Laidre et al., 2008; Ragen et al., 2008). Climate change
resilience will vary and some ice-obligate species should survive in
regions with sufficient ice and some may adapt to ice-free conditions
(Moore and Huntington, 2008). Less ice-dependent species may be more
a
daptable but an increase in seasonally migrant species could increase
competition (Moore and Huntington, 2008).
Climate change vulnerability was associated with feeding specialization,
ice dependence, and ice reliance for prey access and predator avoidance
(Laidre et al., 2008). There is medium agreement on which species’ life
histories are most vulnerable. Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) and
narwhal (Monodon monoceros) were identified as most at risk and
ringed seals (Pusa hispida) and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) as
least sensitive (Laidre et al., 2008). Kovacs et al. (2010) shared concern
for hooded seals and narwhal but had concerns for ringed seals and
bearded seals. Narwhal may have limited ability to respond to habitat
alteration (Williams et al., 2011). Species that spend only part of the
year in the Arctic (e.g., gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), killer whale
(Orcinus orca)) may benefit from reduced ice (Laidre et al., 2008; Moore,
2008; Higdon and Ferguson, 2009; Matthews et al., 2011; Ferguson et
al., 2012). Killer whale expansion into the Arctic could cause a trophic
cascade (Higdon and Ferguson, 2009), although there is limited evidence
at this time.
There is limited evidence although medium agreement that generalists
and pelagic feeding species may benefit from increased marine productivity
from reduced ice while benthic feeding species near continental shelf
habitats may do poorly (Bluhm and Gradinger, 2008). There is limited
evidence but high agreement that dietary or habitat specialists will do
poorly with reduced ice. Reduction of summer/autumn ice was the primary
extrinsic factor affecting Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), with
predictions of distribution changes, reduced calf recruitment, and longer
term predictions of high extinction probability (Cooper et al., 2006;
MacCracken, 2012). Summer ice retreat may make migration to such
habitats energetically unprofitable for ringed seals (Freitas et al., 2008).
Ice loss threatens Baltic ringed seals (Kovacs and Lydersen, 2008). In
Hudson Bay, earlier spring break-up and changes in snow cover over
lairs have reduced ringed seal recruitment (Ferguson et al., 2005).
Changes in snowfall over the 21st century were projected to reduce
ringed seal habitat for lairs by 70% (Hezel et al., 2012). Similarly, harp
seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) breeding habitat was affected by
changing ice conditions that could reduce pup survival (Bajzak et al.,
2011). Although there is limited evidence, there are concerns that climate
change may cause indirect effects on Arctic marine mammals’ health
(e.g., pathogen transmission, food web changes, toxic chemical exposure,
shipping, and development; Burek et al., 2008).
Empirical studies provide direct insight into the mechanisms of climate
change impact on polar bears (Ursus maritimus) but modeling allows
predictive capacity (Amstrup et al., 2010; Hunter et al., 2010; Durner et
al., 2011; Castro de la Guardia et al., 2013).
Polar bears are highly specialized and use annual ice over the continental
shelves as their preferred habitat (Durner et al., 2009; Miller et al., 2012).
The recent and projected loss of annual ice over continental shelves,
decreased ice duration, decreased ice thickness, and habitat fragmentation
are causing reduced food intake, increased energy expenditure, and
increased fasting in polar bears (high confidence; Stirling and Parkinson,
2006; Regehr et al., 2007; Durner et al., 2009; Amstrup et al., 2010;
Hunter et al., 2010; Derocher et al., 2011; Rode et al., 2012; Sahanatien
and Derocher, 2012; Castro de la Guardia et al., 2013).
1576
Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
S
ubpopulation response varies geographically. Only 2 of the 19
subpopulations—Western Hudson Bay (Regehr et al., 2007) and the
southern Beaufort Sea (Regehr et al., 2010; Rode et al., 2010a)—have
data series adequate for clear identification of abundance effects related
to climate change. Many other subpopulations show characteristics
associated with decline but some remain stable. Declining ice is causing
lower body condition, reduced individual growth rates, lower fasting
endurance, lower reproductive rates, and lower survival (high confidence;
Regehr et al., 2007, 2010; Rode et al., 2010a, 2012; Molnar et al., 2011).
Condition is a precursor to demographic change (very high confidence;
Hunter et al., 2010; Regehr et al., 2010; Rode et al., 2010a; Robinson et
al., 2011). The decline in the subpopulation in Western Hudson Bay by
21% between 1987 and 2004 was related to climate change (medium
confidence; Regehr et al., 2007). Replacement of multi-year ice by
annual ice could increase polar bear habitat (low confidence; Derocher
et al., 2004). Increasing the distance to multi-year ice and terrestrial
refugia at maximal melt may result in drowning, cub mortality, and
increased energetic costs (Monnett and Gleason, 2006; Durner et al.,
2011; Pagano et al., 2012). There is robust evidence of changes in sea
ice conditions changing polar bear distribution including den areas (high
confidence; Fischbach et al., 2007; Schliebe et al., 2008; Gleason and
Rode, 2009; Towns et al., 2010; Derocher et al., 2011). The number of
human-bear interactions is projected to increase with warming (high
confidence; Stirling and Parkinson, 2006; Towns et al., 2009).
Use of terrestrial resources by polar bears was suggested as adaptive
(Dyck et al., 2007, 2008; Dyck and Romberg, 2007; Armstrong et al.,
2008; Dyck and Kebreab, 2009; Rockwell and Gormezano, 2009; Smith
et al., 2010). Polar bears cannot adapt to terrestrial foods (Stirling et
al., 2008b; Amstrup et al., 2009; Rode et al., 2010b; Slater et al., 2010),
and will most likely not be able to adapt to climate change and reduced
sea ice extent (very high confidence). Changing ice conditions are linked
to cannibalism (Amstrup et al., 2006), altered feeding (Cherry et al.,
2009), unusual hunting behavior (Stirling et al., 2008a), and diet change
(Iverson et al., 2006; Thiemann et al., 2008) (medium confidence).
Upwelling or subsurface convergence areas found in frontal zones and
eddies, and the marginal ice zone, are associated with high marine
productivity important to Arctic seabirds (e.g., Irons et al., 2008). Long-
term or permanent shifts in convergence areas and the marginal ice-
edge zone induced by climate change may cause mismatch between
the timing of breeding and the peak in food availability, and thus
potentially have strong negative impacts on seabird populations (medium
confidence; Gaston et al., 2005, 2009; Moline et al., 2008; Grémillet and
Boulinier, 2009).
The contrasting results from the relatively few studies of impacts of
climate change on Arctic seabirds demonstrate that future impacts will
be highly variable between species and between populations of the
same species (medium confidence). Retreating sea ice and increasing
SSTs have favored some species and disadvantaged others (Gaston et
al., 2005; Byrd et al., 2008; Irons et al., 2008; Karnovsky et al., 2010;
Fredriksen et al., 2013). Some species of seabirds respond to a wide
range of sea surface temperatures via plasticity of their foraging
behavior, allowing them to maintain their fitness levels (Grémillet et al.,
2012). Phenological changes and changes in productivity of some
breeding colonies have been observed (Byrd et al., 2008; Gaston and
W
oo, 2008; Moe et al., 2009). Negative trends in population size,
observed over the last few decades for several species of widespread
Arctic seabirds, may be related to over-harvesting and pollution as well
as climate change effects (Gaston, 2011). For those species whose
distribution is limited by sea ice and cold water, polar warming could
be beneficial (Mehlum, 2012).
A major ecosystem shift in the northern Bering Sea starting in the mid-
1990s caused by increased temperatures and reduced sea ice cover had
a negative impact on benthic prey for diving birds, and these populations
have declined in the area (Grebmeier et al., 2006). More recently, the
Bering Sea has turned colder again.
28.2.2.2. Antarctica
Productivity and food web dynamics in the Southern Ocean are dominated
by the extreme seasonal fluctuations of irradiance and the dynamics of
sea ice, along with temperature, carbonate chemistry, and vertical
mixing (Massom and Stammerjohn, 2010; Boyd et al., 2012; Murphy et
al., 2012a). Moreover, there is large-scale regional variability in habitats
(Grant et al., 2006) and their responses to climate change. Antarctic
krill, Euphausia superba (hereafter, krill), is the dominant consumer,
eating diatoms, and, in turn, is the main prey of fish, squid, marine
mammals, and seabirds. Krill is dominant from the Bellingshausen Sea
east through to the Weddell Sea and the Atlantic sector of the Southern
Ocean (Rogers et al., 2012). In the East Indian and southwest Pacific
sectors of the Southern Ocean, the krill-dominated system lies to the
south of the Southern Boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current
(Nicol et al., 2000a,b) while to the north copepods and myctophid fish
are most important (Rogers et al., 2012). Further west, where the
Weddell Sea exerts an influence, krill are found as far north as the Sub-
Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (Jarvis et al., 2010). Where sea ice
dominates for most of the year, ice-obligate species (e.g., Euphausia
crystallorophias and Peluragramma antarcticum) are most important
(Smith et al., 2007).
Few studies were available in AR4 to document and validate the
changes in these systems resulting from climate change. Those studies
reported increasing abundance of benthic sponges and their predators,
declining populations of krill, Adélie and emperor penguins, and Weddell
seals, and a possible increase in salps, noting some regional differences
in these trends. The importance of climate processes in generating these
changes could not be distinguished from the indirect consequences of
the recovery of whale and seal populations from past over-exploitation
(Trathan and Reid, 2009; Murphy et al., 2012a,b).
28.2.2.2.1. Marine plankton, krill, fish, and other invertebrates
Distributions of phytoplankton and zooplankton have moved south with
the frontal systems (Hinz et al., 2012; Mackey et al., 2012), including
range expansion into the Southern Ocean from the north by the
coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi (Cubillos et al., 2007) and the red-
tide dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans (McLeod et al., 2012) (medium
confidence). There is insufficient evidence to determine whether other
range shifts are occurring.
1577
Polar Regions Chapter 28
28
C
ollapsing ice shelves are altering the dynamics of benthic assemblages
by exposing areas previously covered by ice shelves, allowing increased
primary production and establishment of new assemblages (e.g., collapse
of the Larson A/B ice shelves) (medium confidence; Peck et al., 2009;
Gutt et al., 2011). More icebergs are grounding, causing changes in
local oceanography and declining productivity that consequently affects
productivity of benthic assemblages (low confidence; Thrush and
Cummings, 2011). Iceberg scour on shallow banks is also increasing,
disrupting resident benthic assemblages (medium confidence; Barnes
and Souster, 2011; Gutt et al., 2011).
Primary production is changing regionally in response to changes in sea
ice, glacial melt, and oceanographic features (medium confidence;
Arrigo et al., 2008; Boyd et al., 2012). Off the west Antarctic Peninsula,
phytoplankton stocks and productivity have decreased north of 63°S,
but increased south of 63°S (high confidence; Montes-Hugo et al., 2009;
Chapter 6). This study (based on time series of satellite-derived and
measured chlorophyll concentrations) also indicated a change from
diatom-dominated assemblages to ones dominated by smaller
phytoplankton (Montes-Hugo et al., 2009). The reduced productivity in
the north may be tempered by increased inputs of iron through changes
to ocean processes in the region (low confidence; Dinniman et al., 2012).
Since the 1980s, Antarctic krill densities have declined in the Scotia Sea
(Atkinson et al., 2004), in parallel with regional declines in the extent
and duration of winter sea ice (Flores et al., 2012). Uncertainty remains
over changes in the krill population because this decline was observed
using net samples and is not reflected in acoustic abundance time series
(Nicol and Brierley, 2010); the observed changes in krill density may
have been partly a result of changes in distribution (Murphy et al.,
2007). Nevertheless, given its dependence on sea ice (Nicol et al., 2008),
the krill population may already have changed and will be subject to
further alterations (high confidence).
The response of krill populations is probably a complex response to
multiple stressors. Decreases in recruitment of post-larval krill across
the Scotia Sea have been linked to declines in sea ice extent in the
Antarctic Peninsula region (medium confidence; Wiedenmann et al., 2009)
but these declines may have been offset by increased growth arising
from increased water temperature in that area (Wiedenmann et al.,
2008). However, near South Georgia krill productivity may have declined
as a result of the increased metabolic costs of increasing temperatures
(low confidence; Hill et al., 2013). The combined effects of changing sea
ice, temperature, and food have not been investigated.
28.2.2.2.2. Marine mammals and seabirds
In general, many Southern Ocean seals and seabirds exhibit strong
relationships to a variety of climate indices, and many of these relationships
are negative to warmer conditions (low confidence; Trathan et al., 2007;
Barbraud et al., 2012; Forcada et al., 2012). Regional variations in climate
change impacts on habitats and food will result in a mix of direct and
indirect effects on these species. For example, Adélie penguin colonies
are declining in recent decades throughout the Antarctic Peninsula while
the reduction in chinstrap penguins is more regional (Lynch et al., 2012)
and related to reductions in krill availability (Lima and Estay, 2013). In
c
ontrast, gentoo penguins are increasing in that region and expanding
south (high confidence; Lynch et al., 2012). This may be explained by the
reduced sea ice habitats and krill availability in the north, resulting in a
southward shift of krill predators, particularly those dependent on sea
ice (Forcada et al., 2012) and the replacement of these predators in the
north by species that do not depend on sea ice, such as gentoo penguins
and elephant seals (low confidence; Costa et al., 2010; Trivelpiece et al.,
2011; Ducklow et al., 2012; Murphy et al., 2013). A contrasting situation
is in the Ross Sea, where Adélie penguin populations have increased
(Smith, Jr. et al., 2012). The mechanisms driving these changes are
currently under review and may be more than simply sea ice (Lynch et
al., 2012; Melbourne-Thomas et al., 2013). For example, too much or
too little sea ice may have negative effects on the demography of Adélie
and emperor penguins (see Barbraud et al., 2012, for review). Also,
increased snow precipitation that accumulates in breeding colonies can
decrease survival of chicks of Adélie penguins when accompanied by
reduced food supply (Chapman et al., 2011).
Changes elsewhere are less well known. Some emperor penguin
colonies have decreased in recent decades (low confidence; Barbraud
et al., 2008; Jenouvrier et al., 2009), and one breeding site has been
recorded as having been vacated (Trathan et al., 2011). However, there
is insufficient evidence to make a global assessment of their current
trend. In the sub-Antarctic of the Indian sector, reductions in seal and
seabird populations may indicate a region-wide shift to a system with
lower productivity (low confidence; Weimerskirch et al., 2003; Jenouvrier
et al., 2005a,b) but commercial fishing activities may also play a role.
Where frontal systems are shifting south, productive foraging areas also
move to higher latitudes. In the Indian sector, this is thought to be
causing declines in king penguin colonies on sub-Antarctic islands (low
confidence; Péron et al., 2010), while the shift in wind patterns may be
causing changes to the demography of albatross (low confidence;
Weimerskirch et al., 2012).
As identified in the WGII AR4, some speciespopulations may suffer as a
result of fisheries while others are recovering from past over-exploitation,
either of which may confound interpretation of the response of these
species and their food webs to climate change. The recovery of Antarctic
fur seals on some sub-Antarctic islands has been well documented, and
their populations may now be competing with krill-eating macaroni
penguins (Trathan et al., 2012). More recently, there has been confirmation
that populations of some Antarctic whales are recovering, such as
humpbacks (Nicol et al., 2008; Zerbini et al., 2010), suggesting that food
is currently not limiting. In contrast, a number of albatross and petrel
populations are declining as a result of incidental mortality in longline
fisheries in southern and temperate waters where these birds forage
(Croxall et al., 2012).
28.2.3. Terrestrial Ecosystems
28.2.3.1. Arctic
Arctic terrestrial ecosystems have undergone dramatic changes
throughout the late Pleistocene and Holocene (last 130,000 years),
mainly driven by natural climate change. Significant altitudinal and
1578
Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
l
atitudinal advances and retreats in tree line have been common, animal
species have gone extinct, and animal populations have fluctuated
significantly throughout this period (e.g., Lorenzen et al., 2011; Salonen
et al., 2011; Mamet and Kershaw, 2012).
28.2.3.1.1. Phenology
Phenological responses attributable to warming are apparent in most
Arctic terrestrial ecosystems (medium confidence). They vary from earlier
onset and later end of season in western Arctic Russia (Zeng et al., 2013),
to little overall trend in plant phenology in the Swedish sub-Arctic
(Callaghan et al., 2010), to dramatic earlier onset of phenophases in
Greenland (Høye et al., 2007; Post et al., 2009a; Callaghan et al., 2011a;
see Figure 28-2).
28.2.3.1.2. Vegetation
The latest assessment of changes in Normalized Difference Vegetation
Index (NDVI), a proxy for plant productivity, from satellite observations
between 1982 and 2012 shows that about a third of the Pan-Arctic has
s
ubstantially greened, less than 4% browned, and more than 57% did
not change significantly (Xu et al., 2013; Figure 28-3). The greatest
increases reported in recent years were in the North American high Arctic,
along the Beaufort Sea and the east European Arctic (Zhang et al., 2008;
Pouliot et al., 2009; Bhatt et al., 2010; Forbes et al., 2010; Walker et al.,
2011; Epstein et al., 2012; Macias-Fauria et al., 2012; Xu et al., 2013).
The positive trends in NDVI are associated with increases in the summer
warmth index (sum of the monthly mean temperatures above freezing
expressed as degrees Celsius per month) that have increased on average
by 5°C per month for the Arctic as a whole (Xu et al., 2013). However,
the even greater 10°C to 12°C per month increase for the land adjacent
to the Chukchi and Bering Seas (Figure 28-3) was associated with
decreases in NDVI. On the Yamal Peninsula in Russia the pattern of NDVI
is partly due to surface disturbance, such as landslide activity (Walker
et al., 2009). Small rodent cycles reduce NDVI in sub-Arctic Sweden, by
decreasing biomass and changing plant species composition (Olofsson
et al., 2012). The changing NDVI signal should therefore generally be
interpreted with care.
In common with tree line trees and herbs, theabundance and biomass
of deciduous shrubs and graminoids (grasses and grass-like plants) have
–60 –50 –40 –30 –20 –10
0
10 20 30
Cassiope tetragona
Papaver radicatum
Salix arctica
Saxifraga oppositifolia
Silene acaulis
Acari*
5 years
Statistically signicant
Statistically insignificant
6 years
7 years
8 years
9 years
10 years
Chironomidae
Coc coidea
Collembola*
Culicidae
Ic hneumonidae
Linyphiidae*
Lycosidae
Muscidae
Nymphalidae
Phoridae
Sciaridae
Dunlin
Sanderling
Ruddy turnstone
Dryas sp.
Plants
Arthropods
Birds
Mean phenological change (days per decade)
Number of years of data available
for the calculation of each
temporal trend
* = likely biased
Figure 28-2 | Temporal change in onset of flowering (plants), median date of emergence (arthropods), and clutch initiation dates (birds) estimated from weekly sampling in
permanents plots (plants and arthropods) and near-daily surveys through the breeding period in a 19 km
2
census area (birds) during 1996–2005 in high-Arctic Greenland. Trends
based on 5 to 10 years of observations are red circles when statistically significant and otherwise blue. Trends in arthropod taxa marked by asterisks (*) are likely to be biased
(Høye et al., 2007).
1579
Polar Regions Chapter 28
28
increased substantially in certain parts of the Arctic tundra in recent
years, but remained stable or decreased in others (very high confidence).
Attribution for the increases and decreases in deciduous shrubs and
graminoids is heterogeneous, with drivers varying among different
regions (very likely), including Arctic warming, differences in herbivory,
industrial development, legacies from past land use, and changes in
moisture (Post and Pedersen, 2008; Forbes et al., 2009, 2010; Kitti et
al., 2009; Olofsson et al., 2009; Callaghan et al., 2011b, 2013; Kumpula
et al., 2011, 2012; Myers-Smith et al., 2011;Elmendorf et al., 2012b;
Gamon et al., 2013).
Shrubs have generally expanded their ranges and/or growth over the
last 20 years (Danby and Hik, 2007; Hudson and Henry, 2009; Forbes et
al., 2010; Hallinger et al., 2010; Callaghan et al., 2011b; Hedenås et al.,
2011; Hill and Henry, 2011; Myers-Smith et al., 2011a,b; Rundqvist et
al., 2011; Elmendorf et al., 2012a,b; Macias-Fauria et al., 2012), and
have varied from dramatic, that is, 200% area increase in study plots
(Rundqvist et al., 2011) in sub-Arctic Sweden, to early invasion of a fell
field community on west Greenland by low shrubs (Callaghan et al.,
2011a).
A synthesis (61 sites; Elmendorf et al., 2012a) of experimental warming
studies of up to 20 years duration in tundra sites worldwide showed,
overall, increased growth of deciduous shrubs and graminoids, decreased
cover of mosses and lichens, and decreased species diversity and
evenness. Elmendorf et al. (2012a) point out that the groups that
increased most in abundance under simulated warming were graminoids
in cold regions and primarily shrubs in warm regions of the tundra.
However, strong heterogeneity in responses to the experimental
warming suggested that other factors could moderate the effects of
climate warming significantly, such as herbivory, differences in soil
nutrients and pH, precipitation, winter temperatures and snow cover,
and species composition and density.
Snow bed habitats have decreased in sub-Arctic Sweden (Brk and Molau,
2007; Hedenås et al., 2011). In other plant communities, changes have
been less dramatic, ranging from small increases in species richness in the
south west Yukon of the Canadian sub-Arctic (Danby et al., 2011), through
subtle changes in plant community composition in west and southeast
Greenland (Callaghan et al., 2011a; Daniëls and De Molenaar, 2011) to
70-year stability of a plant community on Svalbard (Prach et al., 2010).
>2 10–1 –2 –2.9 –3.9 4.8 –5.7 –6.5 <–7.4
<–2 1 01234 567>8
Trend in seasonality with respect to 1982 (% per decade)
Trend in PAP mean NDVI with respect to 1982 (% per decade)
1
20°E
1
50°E
180°E
1
50°W
120°W
90°W
9
0°E
6
0°E
60°W
3
0°E
3
0°W
9
0°N
75°N
65°N
55°N
45°N
Figure 28-3 | Significant changes (p < 0.01) in photosynthetically active period (PAP) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) between 1982 and 2012 (Xu et al., 2013).
1580
Chapter 28 Polar Regions
28
T
he responses to Arctic warming of lichen and bryophyte (mosses)
diversity have been heterogeneous, varying from consistent negative
effects to significant increases in recent years (Hudson and Henry, 2009;
Tømmervik et al., 2009, 2012). Forbes and Kumpula (2009) recorded long-
term and widespread lichen degradation in northern Finland attributed
more to trampling of dry lichens by reindeer in summer than to winter
consumption as forage.
Palaeorecords of vegetation change indicate that the northern tree line
should extend upward and northward during current climate warming
(Callaghan et al., 2005) because tree line is related to summer warmth
(e.g., Harsch et al., 2009). Although the tree line has moved northward
and upward in many Arctic areas, it has not shown a general circumpolar
expansion in recent decades (high confidence).
Model projections that suggest a displacement of between 11 and 50%
of tundra by forest by 2100 (see references in Callaghan et al., 2005)
and shifts upslope by 2 to 6 m yr
–1
(Moen et al., 2004) and northwards
by 7.4 to 20 km yr
–1
(Kaplan and New, 2006) might be overestimating
rate of tree line advance by a factor of up to 2000 (Van Bogaert et al.,
2011). The fastest upslope shifts of tree lines recorded during 20th century
warming are 1 to 2 m yr
1
(Shiyatov et al., 2007; Kullman and Öberg, 2009)
whereas the fastest so-far recorded northward-migrating tree line replaces
tundra by taiga at a rate of 3 to 10 m yr
1
(Kharuk et al., 2006). In some
areas, the location of the tree line has not changed or has changed very
slowly (Payette, 2007; MacDonald et al., 2008). A global study by Harsch
et al. (2009) showed that only 52% of 166 global tree line sites studied
had advanced over the past 100 years. In many cases the tree line has
even retreated (Cherosov et al., 2010). At the small scale, the tree line
has shown increase, decrease, and stability in neighboring locations
(Lloyd et al., 2011; Van Bogaert et al., 2011).
Evidence for densification of the forest at the sub-Arctic tree line is
robust and consistent within Fennoscandia (Tømmervik et al., 2009;
Hedenås et al., 2011; Rundqvist et al., 2011) and Canada (Danby and Hik,
2007). Dendroecological studies indicate enhanced conifer recruitment
during the 20th century in the northern Siberian taiga (Briffa et al.,
2008). Some of the changes are dramatic, such as an increase in area
of mountain birch in study plots in northern Sweden by 600% between
1977/1998 and 2009/2010 (Rundqvist et al., 2011) and a doubling of
tree biomass in Finnmarksvidda in northern Norway since 1957
(Tømmervik et al., 2009). However, model projections of displacement
of deciduous forest by evergreen forest (Wolf et al., 2008; Wramneby
et al., 2010) have not so far been validated.
Where the mountain birch tree line has increased in elevation and shrub
(e.g., willow, dwarf birch) abundance has increased, the response can
be an interaction between climate warming, herbivory pressure, and
earlier land use (Olofsson et al., 2009; Hofgaard et al., 2010; Van Bogaert
et al., 2011). In Fennoscandia and Greenland, heavy grazing by large
herbivores may significantly check deciduous low erect shrub (e.g.,
dwarf shrub and willow) growth (Post et al., 2008; Kitti et al., 2009;
Olofsson et al., 2009).
Less moisture from snow and more rain now favors broadleaf trees over
conifers and mosses in some areas (Juday, 2009) while moisture deficits
are reducing the growth of some northern forests (Goetz et al., 2005;
V
erbyla, 2008; Yarie, 2008) and making them more susceptible to insect
pest outbreaks (see references in Callaghan et al., 2011c). Death of
trees through drought stress or insect pest activity will increase the
probability of fire, which will have positive feedbacks (increase warming)
on the climate (Mack et al., 2011).
2
8.2.3.1.3. Changes in animal populations
The documented collapse or dampening of population cycles of voles
and lemmings over the last 20 to 30 years in parts of Fennoscandia and
Greenland (Schmidt et al., 2012) can be attributed with high confidence
to climate change (Ims et al., 2007, 2011; Gilg et al., 2009; Kausrud et
al., 2009). A shortening of the snow season and more thaw and/or rain
events during the winter will have an effect on the subnivean space,
which provides thermal insulation, access to food, and protection from
predators (Berg et al., 2008; Kausrud et al., 2009; Johansson et al., 2011).
However, the causes of the changes in the lemming and vole cycles are
still being debated as factors other than climate change may also be of
importance (Brommer et al., 2010; Krebs, 2011).
Climate-mediated range expansion both in altitude and latitude of insect
pests, and increased survival due to higher winter temperatures, has been
documented for bark beetles in North America (Robertson et al., 2009)
and for geometrid moths in Fennoscandia (Jepsen et al., 2008, 2011;
Callaghan et al., 2010), causing more extensive forest damage than
before. Outbreaks of insect pests such as geometrid moths can even
reduce the strengths of CO
2
sinks in some areas (Heliasz et al., 2011).
The decline in wild reindeer and caribou (both Rangifer tarandus)
populations in some regions of about 30% over the last 10 to 15 years
has been linked both to climate warming and anthropogenic landscape
changes (Post et al., 2009a; Vors and Boyce, 2009; Russell and Gunn,
2010). Even though most of the Arctic has warmed, the decline in the
populations has not been uniform. Some of the North American large,
wild herds have, for example, declined by 75 to 90%, while other wild
herds and semi-domestic herds in Fennoscandia and Russia have been
stable or even increased (Forbes et al., 2009; Gunn et al., 2009; Vors
and Boyce, 2009; Forbes, 2010; Joly et al., 2011; Kumpula et al., 2012).
The expected and partially observed increased primary productivity of
Arctic tundra may potentially increase the supply of food for Arctic
ungulates. However, the overall quality of forage may decline during
warming, for example, if the nitrogen content of key fodder species for
ungulates were to drop during warming (Turunen et al., 2009;
Heggberget et al., 2010), while lichen biomass, an important winter fodder
for reindeer, is decreasing over parts of the Arctic region. Herbivory also
changes the vegetation itself in concert with the warming, further
complicating the prediction of vegetation changes and their impacts on
ungulate populations (van Der Wal et al., 2007; Turunen et al., 2009).
More frequent rain-on-snow icing events and thicker snowpacks caused
by warmer winters and increased precipitation may restrict access to
vegetation and may have profound negative influences on the population
dynamics of Arctic ungulates (Berg et al., 2008; Forchhammer et al.,
2008; Miller and Barry, 2009; Stien et al., 2010, 2012; Hansen et al.,
2011). Such events have caused heavy mortality in some semi-domestic
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r
eindeer herds and musk oxen in recent years (Grenfell and Putkonen,
2008; Forbes, 2009; Bartsch et al., 2010), and have also been shown to
synchronize the dynamics of a resident vertebrate community (small
mammals, reindeer, and Arctic fox) in Svalbard (Hansen et al., 2013). In
contrast, Tyler et al. (2008) and Tyler (2010) suggested that generally
warmer winters enhance the abundance of reindeer populations.
It has been suggested that warming-induced trophic mismatches
between forage availability and quality and timing of calving have a
role in the decline of circumpolar reindeer and caribou populations (Post
and Forchhammer, 2008; Post et al., 2009a,b), although such trophic
mismatch has been disputed (Griffith et al., 2010).
Adjustment via phenotypic plasticity instead of adaptation by natural
selection is expected to dominate vertebrate responses to rapid
Arctic climate change, and many such adjustments have already been
documented (Gilg et al., 2012).
28.2.3.1.4. Long-term trends and event-driven changes
Long-term climate change impacts on vegetation and animal populations
are accelerated when tipping points are triggered by events such as
extreme weather, fire, insect pest, and disease outbreaks. The impacts
of winter thaw events on ecosystems are now well documented (e.g.,
Bokhorst et al., 2011) but studies of the severe impacts of tundra fires
on vegetation and biospheric feedbacks are recent (Mack et al., 2011).
Results from experimental winter thaws were validated by a natural
event in northern Norway and Sweden in 2007 that reduced NDVI by
almost 30% over at least 1400 km
2
(Bokhorst et al., 2009). Studies on
relationships between climate change and plant disease are rare, but
Olofsson et al. (2011) showed that increased snow accumulation led to
a higher incidence of fungal growth on sub-Arctic vegetation.
28.2.3.2. Antarctica
Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems occur in 15 biologically distinct areas
(Terauds et al., 2012), with those in the maritime and sub-Antarctic
islands experiencing the warmest temperatures, reduced extreme
seasonality and greatest biodiversity (Convey, 2006). In the cooler
conditions on the continent, species must be capable of exploiting the
short periods where temperature and moisture availability are above
physiological and biochemical thresholds. In many areas, there is no
visible vegetation, with life being limited, at the extreme, to endolithic
(within rock) communities of algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, bacteria, and
lichens (Convey, 2006).
Few robust studies are available of biological responses to observed
climatic changes in natural Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. The rapid
population expansion and local-scale colonization by two native
flowering plants (Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis) in
maritime Antarctica (Parnikoza et al., 2009) remains the only published
repeat long-term monitoring study of any terrestrial vegetation or
location in Antarctica. Radiocarbon dating of moss peat deposits has
shown that growth rates and microbial productivity have risen rapidly
on the Antarctic Peninsula since the 1960s, consistent with temperature
c
hanges, and are unprecedented in the last 150 years (Royles et al.,
2013). In east Antarctica, moss growth rates over the last 50 years
have been linked to changes in wind speed and temperature and their
influence on water availability (Clarke et al., 2012). A contributing factor
is that air temperatures have increased past the critical temperature at
which successful sexual reproduction (seed set) can now take place,
changing the dominant mode of reproduction and increasing the
potential distance for dispersal (low confidence; Convey, 2011). Similar
changes in the local distribution and development of typical cryptogamic
vegetation of this region have been reported (Convey, 2011), including
the rapid colonization of ice-free ground made available through glacial
retreat and reduction in extent of previously permanent snow cover
(Olech and Chwedorzewska, 2011). As these vegetation changes create
new habitat, there are concurrent changes in the local distribution and
abundance of the invertebrate fauna that then colonize them (low
confidence).
28.2.4. Health and Well-being of Arctic Residents
The warming Arctic and major changes in the cryosphere are significantly
impacting the health and well-being of Arctic residents and projected
to increase, especially for many Indigenous peoples. Although impacts
are expected to vary among the diverse settlements that range from
small, remote, predominantly Indigenous to large cities and industrial
settlements, this section focuses more on health impacts of climate
change on Indigenous, isolated, and rural populations because they are
especially vulnerable to climate change owing to a strong dependence
on the environment for food, culture, and way of life; their political and
economic marginalization; existing social, health, and poverty disparities;
as well as their frequent close proximity to exposed locations along
ocean, lake, or river shorelines (Ford and Furgal, 2009; Galloway-McLean,
2010; Larsen et al., 2010; Cochran et al., 2013).
28.2.4.1. Direct Impacts of a Changing Climate
on the Health of Arctic Residents
Direct impacts of climate changes on the health of Arctic residents
include extreme weather events, rapidly changing weather conditions,
and increasingly unsafe hunting conditions (physical/mental injuries,
death, disease), temperature-related stress (limits of human survival in
thermal environment, cold injuries, cold-related diseases), and UV-B
radiation (immunosuppression, skin cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,
cataracts) (high confidence; Revich, 2008; AMAP, 2009; IPCC, 2012).
Intense precipitation events and rapid snowmelt are expected to impact
the magnitude and frequency of slumping and active layer detachment,
resulting in rock falls, debris flow, and avalanches (Kokelj et al., 2009;
Ford et al., 2010). Other impacts from weather, extreme events, and
natural disasters are the possibility of increasingly unpredictable, long
duration, and/or rapid onset of extreme weather events, storms, and
inundation by large storm surges, which, in turn, may create risks to safe
travel or subsistence activities, loss of access to critical supplies and
services to rural or isolated communities (e.g., food, telecommunications,
fuel), and risk of being trapped outside one’s own community (high
confidence; Laidre et al., 2008; Parkinson, 2009; Brubaker et al., 2011b,c).
Changing river and sea ice conditions affect the safety of travel for
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I
ndigenous populations especially, and inhibit access to critical hunting,
herding, and fishing areas (Andrachuk and Pearce, 2010; Derksen et al.,
2012; Huntington and Watson, 2012).
Cold exposure has been shown to increase the frequency of certain
injuries (e.g., hypothermia, frostbite), accidents, and diseases (respiratory,
circulatory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal) (Revich and Shaposhmikov,
2010). Studies in northern Russia have indicated an association between
low temperatures and social stress and cases of cardiomyopathy (Revich
and Shaposhnikov, 2010). It is expected that winter warming in the
Arctic will reduce winter mortality rates, primarily through a reduction
in respiratory and cardiovascular deaths (Shaposhnikov et al., 2010).
Researchers project that a reduction in cold-related injuries may occur,
assuming that the standard for protection against the cold is not
reduced (including individual behavior-related factors) (Nayha, 2005).
Conversely, studies are showing respiratory and cardiac stress associated
with extreme warm summer days and that rising temperatures are
accompanied by increased air pollution and mortality, especially in
Russian cities with large pollution sources (Revich, 2008; Revich and
Shaposhnikov, 2012).
28.2.4.2. Indirect Impacts of Climate Change
on the Health of Arctic Residents
Indirect effects of climate change on the health of Arctic residents
include a complex set of impacts such as changes in animal and
plant populations (species responses, infectious diseases), changes in
the physical environment (ice and snow, permafrost), diet (food yields,
availability of country food), built environment (sanitation infrastructure,
water supply system, waste systems, building structures), drinking water
access, contaminants (local, long-range transported), and coastal issues
(harmful algal blooms, erosion) (high confidence; Maynard and Conway,
2007; Parkinson and Evengård, 2009; Brubaker et al., 2011a; see also
Chapter 11).
In addition to the climate change impacts and processes are the
complicated impacts from contaminants such as persistent organic
pollutants (POPs), radioactivity, and heavy metals (e.g., mercury), which
create additional and/or synergistic impacts on the overall health and
well-being of all Arctic communities (Armitage et al., 2011; UNEP and
AMAP, 2011; Teran et al., 2012). Ambient temperature variability and
temperature gradients directly affect the volatilization, remobilization,
and transport pathways of mercury and POPs in the atmosphere, ocean
currents, sea ice, and rivers. Transport pathways, inter-compartmental
distribution, and bioaccumulation and transformation of environmental
contaminants such as POPs, mercury, and radionuclides in the Arctic
may consequently be affected by climate change (high confidence;
AMAP 2011b; Ma et al., 2011; UNEP and AMAP 2011; Teng et al., 2012).
Ma et al. (2011) and Hung et al. (2010) demonstrated that POPs are
already being remobilized into the air from sinks in the Arctic region as
a result of decreasing sea ice and increasing temperatures.
Contaminants and human health in the Arctic are tightly linked to the
climate and Arctic ecosystems by factors such as contaminant cycling
and climate (increased transport to and from the Arctic), and the related
increased risks of transmission to residents through subsistence life
w
ays (Maynard, 2006; AMAP, 2010; Armitage et al., 2011; UNEP and
AMAP, 2011; Teran et al., 2012). The consumption of traditional foods
by Indigenous peoples places these populations at the top of the Arctic
food chain and through biomagnification, therefore, they may receive
some of the highest exposures in the world to certain contaminants
(Armitage et al., 2011; UNEP and AMAP, 2011). Contaminants such as
POPs are known for their adverse neurological and medical effects
on humans, particularly the developing fetus, children, women of
reproductive age, and the elderly; thus it is important to include
contaminants as a significant part of any climate impact assessment
(UNEP and AMAP, 2011).
Radioactivity in the Arctic is also a concern because there are many
potential and existing radionuclide sources in some parts of the Arctic,
and contamination can remain for long periods of time in soils and some
vegetation, creating potentially high exposures for people (AMAP, 2010).
Climate changes can mobilize radionuclides throughout the Arctic
environment, and also potentially impact infrastructure associated with
nuclear activities by changes in permafrost, precipitation, erosion, and
extreme weather events (AMAP, 2010).
Warming temperatures are enabling increased overwintering survival
and distribution of new insects that sting and bite as well as many bird,
animal, and insect species that can serve as disease vectors and, in turn,
causing an increase in human exposure to new and emerging infectious
diseases (Parkinson et al., 2008; Epstein and Ferber, 2011). Examples of
new and emerging diseases are tick-borne encephalitis (brain infection)
in Russia and Canada (Ogden et al., 2010; Tokarevich et al., 2011)
and Sweden (Lindgren and Gustafson, 2001) and Giardia spp. and
Cryptosporidium spp. infection of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and
bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Arctic Ocean (Hughes-
Hanks et al., 2005). It is also expected that temperature increases will
increase the incidence of zoonotic diseases as relocations of animal
populations occur (Revich et al., 2012; Hueffler et al., 2013).
Harmful algal blooms (HABs), whose biotoxins can be a serious health
hazard to humans or animals (paralysis, death), are increasing globally
and expected to increase in the Arctic, and HABs are influenced directly
by climate change-related factors such as temperature, winds, currents,
nutrients, and runoff (Portier et al., 2010; Epstein and Ferber, 2011; Walsh
et al., 2011; see also Chapters 6, 11). Increasing ocean temperatures
have caused an outbreak of a cholera-like disease, caused by Vibrio
parahaemolyticus, in Alaskan oysters (McLaughlin et al., 2005). In
addition, warmer temperatures raise the possibility of anthrax exposure
in Siberia from permafrost thawing of historic cattle burial grounds
(Revich and Podolnaya, 2011).
The impacts of climate change on food security and basic nutrition are
critical to human health because subsistence foods from the local
environment provide Arctic residents, especially Indigenous peoples,
with unique cultural and economic benefits necessary to well-being and
contribute a significant proportion of daily requirements of nutrition,
vitamins, and essential elements to the diet (Ford, 2009; Ford and
Berrang-Ford, 2009). However, climate change is already an important
threat because of the decrease in predictability of weather patterns, low
water levels and streams, timing of snow, and ice extent and stability,
impacting the opportunities for successful hunting, gathering, fishing,
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a
nd access to food sources and increasing the probability of accidents
(high confidence; Ford and Furgal, 2009; Ford et al., 2010). In recent years,
populations of marine and land mammals, fish, and water fowl are also
being reduced or displaced, thus reducing the traditional food supply
(Gearheard et al., 2006; West and Hovelsrud, 2010; Lynn et al., 2013).
Traditional food preservation methods such as drying of fish and meat,
fermentation, and ice cellar storage are being compromised by warming
temperatures, thus further reducing food available to the community
(Brubaker et al., 2011b,c). For example, food contamination caused by
thawing of permafrost “ice cellars” is occurring and increasingly wet
conditions make it harder to dry food for storage (Hovelsrud et al.,
2011). Indigenous people increasingly have to abandon their semi-
nomadic lifestyles, limiting their overall flexibility to access traditional
foods from more distant locations (www.arctichealthyukon.ca). These
reductions in the availability of traditional foods plus general globalization
pressures are forcing Indigenous communities to increasingly depend
on expensive, non-traditional, and often less healthy Western foods,
increasing the rates of modern diseases associated with processed food
and its packaging, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, dental
caries, and obesity (Armitage et al., 2011; Berrang-Ford et al., 2011;
Brubaker et al., 2011b,c).
Climate change is beginning to threaten community and public health
infrastructure, often in communities with no central water supply and
treatment sources. This is especially serious in low-lying coastal Arctic
communities (e.g., Shishmaref, Alaska, USA; Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest
Territories, Canada) through increased river and coastal flooding and
erosion, increased drought, and thawing of permafrost, resulting in loss
of reservoirs, damage to landfill sites, or sewage contamination (GAO,
2009; Bronen, 2011). Saltwater intrusion and bacterial contamination
may also be threatening community water supplies (Parkinson et al.,
2008; Virginia and Yalowitz, 2012). Quantities of water available for
drinking, basic hygiene, and cooking are becoming limited owing to
damaged infrastructure, drought, and changes in hydrology (Virginia
and Yalowitz, 2012). Disease incidence caused by contact with human
waste may increase when flooding and damaged infrastructure spreads
sewage in villages with no municipal water supply. This can result in
higher rates of hospitalization for pneumonia, influenza, skin infections,
and respiratory viral infections (Parkinson and Evengård, 2009; Virginia
and Yalowitz, 2012). Compounding these impacts in rural areas as well
as cities are respiratory and other illnesses caused by air-borne pollutants
(e.g., contaminants, microbes, dust, mold, pollen, smoke) (Revich, 2008;
Rylander and Schilling, 2011; Revich and Shaposhnikov, 2012).
It is now well documented that the many climate-related impacts on
Arctic communities are causing significant psychological and mental
distress and anxiety among residents (Levintova, 2010; Portier et al.,
2010; Coyle and Susteren, 2012; see also Chapter 11). For example,
changes in the physical environment (e.g., through thawing permafrost
and erosion) that may lead to forced or voluntary relocation of residents
out of their villages or loss of traditional subsistence species are causing
mental health impacts among Indigenous and other vulnerable, isolated
populations (Curtis et al., 2005; Albrecht et al., 2007; Coyle and Susteren,
2012; Maldonado et al, 2013). Special concern has been expressed by
many communities about the unusually high and increasing numbers
of suicides in the Arctic, especially among Indigenous youth, and efforts
a
re underway to try to develop a thorough assessment as well as
establish effective intervention efforts (Albrecht et al., 2007; Portier et
al., 2010; USARC, 2010).
28.2.5. Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Knowledge
Indigenous populations in the Arctic—the original Native inhabitants
of the region—are considered especially vulnerable to climate change
because of their close relationship with the environment and its natural
resources for physical, social, and cultural well-being (Nuttall et al.,
2005; Parkinson, 2009; Cochran et al., 2013). Although there are wide
differences in the estimates, including variations in definitions of the
Arctic region, Arctic Indigenous peoples are estimated to number
between 400,000 and 1.3 million (Bogoyavlensky and Siggner, 2004;
Galloway-McLean, 2010). According to 2010 census data, there are
approximately 68,000 Indigenous people living in the Russian Arctic.
These Arctic residents depend heavily on the region’s terrestrial, marine,
and freshwater renewable resources, including fish, mammals, birds,
and plants; however, the ability of Indigenous peoples to maintain
traditional livelihoods such as hunting, harvesting, and herding is
increasingly being threatened by the unprecedented rate of climate
change (high confidence; Nakashima et al., 2012; Cochran et al., 2013). In
habitats across the Arctic, climate changes are affecting these livelihoods
through decreased sea ice thickness and extent, less predictable weather,
severe storms, sea level rise, changing seasonal melt/freeze-up of rivers
and lakes, changes in snow type and timing, increasing shrub growth,
permafrost thaw, and storm-related erosion, which, in turn, are causing
such severe loss of land in some regions that a number of Alaskan
coastal villages are having to relocate entire communities (Oskal, 2008;
Forbes and Stammler, 2009; Mahoney et al., 2009; Bartsch et al., 2010;
Weatherhead et al., 2010; ,Bronen, 2011; Brubaker et al., 2011b,c; Eira et
al., 2012; Huntington and Watson, 2012; McNeeley, 2012; Maldonado et
al., 2013). In addressing these climate impacts, Indigenous communities
must at the same time consider multiple other stressors such as resource
development (oil and gas, mining); pollution; changes in land use policies;
changing forms of governance; and the prevalence in many Indigenous
communities of poverty, marginalization, and resulting health disparities
(Abryutina, 2009; Forbes et al., 2009; Reinert et al., 2009; Magga et al.,
2011; Vuojala-Magga et al., 2011; Nakashima et al., 2012; Mathiesen
et al., 2013).
Traditional knowledge is the historical knowledge of Indigenous peoples
accumulated over many generations and it is increasingly emerging as
an important knowledge base for more comprehensively addressing the
impacts of environmental and other changes as well as development of
appropriate adaptation strategies for Indigenous communities (WGII AR4
Chapter 15; Oskal, 2008; Reinert et al., 2008; Wildcat, 2009; Magga et
al., 2011; Vuojala-Magga et al., 2011; Nakashima et al., 2012; Vogesser
et al, 2013). For example, Saami reindeer herders have specialized
knowledge of dynamic snow conditions, which mediate access to forage
on autumn, winter, and spring reindeer rangelands (Roturier and Roue,
2009; Eira et al., 2012; Vikhamar-Schuler et al., 2013) and traditional
governance systems for relating to natural environments (Sara, 2013).
Increasingly, traditional knowledge is being combined with Western
scientific knowledge to develop more sustainable adaptation strategies
for all communities in the changing climate.
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F
or example, at Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada, Inuit experts and scientists
both note that wind speed has increased in recent years and that wind
direction changes more often over shorter periods (within a day) than
it did during the past few decades (Gearheard et al., 2010; Overland et
al., 2012). In Norway, Sámi reindeer herders and scientists are both
observing direct and indirect impacts to reindeer husbandry such as
changes in snow and ice cover, forage availability, and timing of river
freeze-thaw patterns from increasing temperatures (Eira et al., 2012).
On the Yamal Peninsula in western Siberia, detailed Nenets observations
and recollections of iced-over autumn and winter pastures due to rain-
on-snow events have proven suitable for calibrating the satellite-based
microwave sensor SeaWinds (Bartsch et al., 2010) and NASAs AMSR-E
sensor.
28.2.6. Economic Sectors
28.2.6.1. Arctic
28.2.6.1.1. Agriculture and forestry
Climate change presents benefits and costs for forestry and agriculture
(Aaheim et al., 2009; Hovelsrud et al., 2011). In Iceland, for example, tree
limits are found at higher altitudes than before, and productivity of