This is Chapter 17 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Lead Authors: James J. McCarthy, Marybeth Long Martello; Contributing Authors: Robert Corell, Noelle Eckley Selin, Shari Fox, Grete Hovelsrud-Broda, Svein Disch Mathiesen, Colin Polsky, Henrik Selin, Nicholas J.C.Tyler; Corresponding Authors: Kirsti Strøm Bull, Inger Maria Gaup Eira, Nils Isak Eira, Siri Eriksen, Inger Hanssen-Bauer, Johan Klemet Kalstad, Christian Nellemann, Nils Oskal, Erik S. Reinert, Douglas Siegel-Causey, Paal Vegar Storeheier, Johan Mathis Turi
Climate change occurs amid myriad social and natural transformations. Understanding and anticipating the consequences of climate change, therefore, requires knowledge about the interactions of climate change and other stresses and about the resilience and vulnerability of human–environment systems that experience them. Vulnerability analysis offers a way of conceptualizing interacting stresses and their implications for particular human–environment systems.This chapter presents a framework for vulnerability analysis and uses this framework to illuminate examples in Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, Canada; coastal Greenland; and Finnmark, Norway.These examples focus on indigenous peoples and their experiences or potential experiences with climate change, organic and metallic pollution, and changing human and societal conditions. Indigenous peoples are the focus of these studies because of their (generally) close connections to the environments in which they live and because of the coping and adaptive strategies that have, for generations, sustained indigenous peoples in the highly variable arctic environment.The Sachs Harbour and Greenland examples are cursory since vulnerability field studies in these areas have yet to be undertaken.The Finnmark example provides a more in-depth analysis of Sámi reindeer herding developed through a collaborative effort involving scientists and herders, a subset of whom are authors of this chapter. These examples reveal a number of factors (e.g., changes in snow quality, changes in ice cover, contaminant concentrations in marine mammals, regulations, resource management practices, community dynamics, and economic development) likely to be important in determining the vulnerability of arctic peoples experiencing environmental and social change.The examples also illustrate the importance of understanding (and developing place-based methods to refine this understanding) stress interactions and the characteristics of particular human– environment systems, including their adaptive capacities. Moreover, meaningful analyses of human–environment dynamics require the full participation of local people, their knowledge, perspectives, and values.
Full vulnerability assessments for communities in Sachs Harbour and coastal Greenland, require in-depth investigations into what the people living in these areas view as key concerns and how these residents perceive the interrelations among, for example, natural resources and resource use, climate change, pollution, regulations, markets, and transnational political campaigns. This information will contribute to the identification of relevant stresses and to analysis of adaptation and coping, historically, presently, and in the future. For the Finnmark case study next steps should include attaining a more complete understanding of interrelations among reindeer herding, climate change, and governance and how reindeer herders might respond to consequences arising from changes in these factors. This case study highlights a number of other areas for future and/or continued investigation. These include analysis of the possibility that governmental management authorities or herders might respond to environmental and social changes in ways that enhance or degrade the reindeer herding habitat, and a more in-depth inquiry into extreme events and their implications for sustainable reindeer herding.
A comprehensive picture of the vulnerability of arctic human–environment systems to climate change and other changes will benefit from further development of case studies, longer periods of longitudinal analysis, and more comprehensive research with interdisciplinary teams that include local peoples as full participants. Case studies should be selected to provide information across a wide array of human–environment systems and conditions so as to enable comparative work across sites. This will lead to refinements in the vulnerability framework and improved understanding of resilience and vulnerability in this rapidly changing region.
Chapter 17: Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience
17.2. Conceptual approaches to vulnerability assessments
17.2.1. A framework for analyzing vulnerability
17.2.2. Focusing on interactive changes and stresses in the Arctic
17.2.3. Identifying coping and adaptation strategies
17.3. Methods and models for vulnerability analysis
17.4. Understanding and assessing vulnerabilities through case studies
17.4.1. Candidate vulnerability case studies
17.4.2. A more advanced vulnerability case study
17.5. Insights gained and implications for future vulnerability assessments