The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (report summary)

May 7, 2012, 5:59 pm
Source: IASC

This is Section 1.3 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
Authors: Henry Huntington, Gunter Weller. Contributing Authors: Elizabeth Bush,Terry V. Callaghan,Vladimir M. Kattsov, Mark Nuttall

Origins of the assessment (1.3.1)


The idea to conduct an assessment of climate and UV radiation in the Arctic grew from several initiatives in the 1990s.The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) had been engaged in climate studies since it was founded in 1991, and conducted regional arctic impact studies throughout the 1990s. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) also conducted a preliminary assessment of climate and UV impacts in the Arctic, which was published in 1998. The need for a comprehensive and circum-Arctic climate impact study had been discussed by IASC for some time, and IASC invited AMAP and CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) to participate in a joint venture. A joint meeting between the three groups was held in April 1999 and the IASC proposal was used as the basis for discussion. A revised version of the proposal was then submitted to the Arctic Council and the IASC Council for approval. A joint project between the Arctic Council and IASC – the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment – was formally approved by the Arctic Council at its meeting in October 2000.

In addition to the work of the groups responsible for its production, the ACIA builds on several regional and global climate change assessments.The IPCC has made the most comprehensive and best-known assessment of climate change on a global basis[1], and has provided many valuable lessons for the ACIA. In addition, regional studies have examined, among other areas, Canada[2], the Mackenzie Basin[3], the Barents Sea[4], and Alaska[5]. (The results of these regional studies are summarized in Chapter 18.) Ozone depletion and UV radiation have also been assessed globally by the World Meteorological Organization[6] and the United Nations Environment Programme[7].These assessments, and the research that they comprise, provide a baseline against which the findings of the ACIA can be considered.

Organization (1.3.2)

The ACIA started in October 2000 and was completed by autumn 2004. Together, AMAP, CAFF, and IASC set up the organization for the ACIA, starting with an Assessment Steering Committee (ASC) to oversee the assessment.The members of the ASC included a chair, vice-chair, and executive director, all the lead authors for the ACIA chapters, several scientists appointed by the three sponsoring organizations, and three individuals appointed by the indigenous organizations in the Arctic Council. A subset of the ASC, the Assessment Integration Team, was created to coordinate the material in the various chapters and documents produced by the ACIA. The Arctic Council, including its Senior Arctic Officials, provided oversight through progress reports and documentation at all the Arctic Council meetings.

Funding was provided to the ACIA through direct and indirect support by each of the eight arctic nations. As the lead country for the ACIA, the United States provided financial support through the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which allowed the establishment of an ACIA Secretariat at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Contributions from the other arctic countries, as well as from the United Kingdom, supported the involvement of their citizens and provided in-kind support, such as hosting meetings and workshops.

Much of the credibility associated with an assessment comes from the reputation of the authors, who are well-recognized experts in their fields of study. Broad participation of experts from many different disciplines and countries in the writing of the ACIA documents was established through an extensive nomination process. From these nominations, the ASC selected lead and contributing authors for each chapter of the assessment.

The chapters were drafted by around 180 lead and co-lead authors, contributing authors, and consulting authors from 12 countries, including all the arctic countries.The ultimate standard in any scientific publication is peer review. The scientific chapters of the ACIA were subject to a rigorous and comprehensive peer review process, which included around 200 reviewers from 15 countries.

Terminology of likelihood (1.3.3)

Discussion of future events and conditions must take into account the likelihood that these events or conditions will occur. Often, assessments of likelihood are qualitative or cover a range of probabilities.To avoid confusion and to promote consistent usage, the ACIA has adapted a lexicon of terms from the US National Assessment Team[8] describing the likelihood of expected change.The stated likelihood of particular impacts occurring is based on expert evaluation of results from multiple lines of evidence including field and laboratory experiments, observed trends, theoretical analyses, and model simulations. Judgments of likelihood are indicated using a five-tier lexicon (see Fig. 1.7) consistent with everyday usage.These terms are similar to those used by the IPCC, though somewhat simplified, and are used throughout the ACIA.


caption Fig. 1.7. Five-tier lexicon describing the likelihood of expected change.


Chapter 1: Introduction to the ACIA

1.1  An Introduction to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
1.2. Why assess the impacts of changes in climate and UV radiation in the Arctic?
1.3. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
1.4. The assessment process
1.5. The Arctic: geography, climate, ecology, and people
1.6. An outline of the assessment


  1. ^e.g.,IPCC, 2001a. Climate Change 2001:The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. J.T. Houghton,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell and C.A. Johnson (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 881pp.
    IPCC, 2001b. Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. J.J. McCarthy, O.F. Canziani, N.A. Leary, D.J. Dokken and K.S.White (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 1032pp.
  2. ^Maxwell, B., 1997. Responding to Global Climate Change in Canada’s Arctic.Vol. II of The Canada Country Study: Climate Impacts and Adaptation. Environment Canada, 82pp.
  3. ^Cohen, S.J., 1997a.What if and so what in Northwest Canada: could climate change make a difference to the future of the Mackenzie Basin. Arctic, 50:293–307.
    Cohen, S.J. (ed.), 1997b. Mackenzie Basin Impact Study (MBIS), Final Report. Environment Canada, Downsview, 372pp.
  4. ^Lange, M.A., B. Bartling and K. Grosfeld (eds.), 1999. Global changes in the Barents Sea region. Proceedings of the First International BASIS Research Conference, St. Petersburg, Feb. 22–25 1998, Institute for Geophysics, University of Münster, 470pp.
    Lange, M.A. and the BASIS Consortium, 2003.The Barents Sea Impact Study (BASIS): Methodology and First Results. Continental Shelf Research, 23(17):1673–1694.
  5. ^Weller, G., P. Anderson and B.Wang (eds.), 1999. Preparing for a Changing Climate:The Potential Consequences of Climate Change and Variability. A Report of the Alaska Regional Assessment Group for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Center for Global Change and Arctic System Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 42pp.
  6. ^WMO, 2003. Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2002. Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project – Report No. 47,World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.
  7. ^UNEP, 2003. Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion and its Interactions with Climate Change: 2002 Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme. Journal of Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, Special issue. DOI: 10.1039/b211913g.
  8. ^NAST, 2000. Climate Change Impacts on the United States. National Assessment Synthesis Team, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC. Cambridge University Press, 153pp.








(2012). The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (report summary). Retrieved from


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