Promoting Resilience of Arctic Cities & Landscapes
- Part of a Series
- Climate Resilience
The Arctic encompasses a vast area of land and ocean
that includes eight nations (defined as being north of the Arctic Circle), and it is home to expanses of tundra and taiga vegetation, large mammal populations, major fisheries, numerous communities of indigenous peoples, industrial cities, and military installations, as well as some of the most extensive resource extraction operations on the planet. The Arctic is also one of the most rapidly changing regions of the Earth, with air temperatures rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe on average; Arctic Ocean sea-ice is melting, leading to further climatic changes, altered coastal dynamics (including coastal erosion), and dramatic changes with regard to numerous aspects of resource accessibility (from local to international perspectives). In concert, these changes can promote both benefits and threats to Arctic human communities, near the coast and inland. Understanding the resilience of these Arctic landscapes and communities is a highly complex endeavor that requires a dedicated, interdisciplinary research effort. The Arctic Resilience CoLab at UVA focused on understanding and promoting resilience of highly dynamic Arctic cities and the landscapes within which they are situated. The goal of this work will be to engage with community leaders, researchers, and cultural and environmental agencies in Utqiagvik and elsewhere in Alaska to study the intersections between the built and natural environments in this extreme ecosystem, and to explore the adaptations and transformations that are occurring (and those that need to occur) due to the effects of climate change. The research initiative proposed for this grant will leverage existing expertise from across the University and our network of collaborators, to conduct research on the coupled human and natural components of Arctic systems. Faculty from fields including Environmental Science, Architecture, and Engineering and Applied Science are all part of the research team. To discover intersections between these fields, the team will host a series of Research Dialogues, to bring together faculty and students from across grounds. New lines of inquiry and collaboration will be outlined. Then the team will head to Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), on the Beaufort Sea coast to conduct on-site pilot field studies. The CoLab’s will work to understand the interactions among natural, infrastructure, cultural, and socio-economic components of these Arctic systems. The team will assess the current status of these Arctic landscapes and communities with respect to resilience in the face of local, regional, and global changes. The integrated approach to artic research is expected to provide insights that can be used to develop strategies for promoting and ensuring the long-term resilience of these coupled human-natural systems, and potentially more complex communities and cities in other climate zones around the globe.