Month: December 2019

Congratulations to Dr Sohns on passing her PhD defence

Congratulations to Antonia who just passed her PhD defence at McGill. Antonia joined the @ccadapt team in 2016 and her thesis examines the factors creating household water vulnerability across the Arctic. She conducted her empirical work in Alaska, with her work making a number of recommendations on how to strengthen water systems in-light of rapid climate change. Her first two papers from her thesis are already published: Sohns, A. et al (2019). What conditions are associated with household water vulnerability in the Arctic? Environmental Science and Policy, 97, 95-105; and Sohns, A. et al (2019). Water vulnerability in Arctic households. Arctic, 72 (3). 215-335

Eranga’s PhD Research Profiled by WWF Arctic Programme

Eranga’s work on adaptation of Indigenous fisheries to climate change in the Nunavummiut community of Pangnirtung was this month profiled by the WWF’s quarterly magazine – ‘The Circle’.

Worldwide, coastal Indigenous Peoples consume about 15 times as much seafood as non-Indigenous people. This includes the Arctic Inuit, who are coping with the environmental impacts of the climate crisis by increasingly turning to the ocean for food. The series of reports issued recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change turned an urgent spotlight on coastal aquatic systems, which will be threatened even if we succeed in limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. The impacts of the climate crisis are already causing drastic changes in coastal resources— and directly affecting the people who rely on them. ADAPTING TO SURVIVE But some Inuit communities are refusing to give up. Instead, they are using their accumulated knowledge and long habit of continuous learning to help build resilience to the effects of climate change. This emphasis on climate resilience among Inuit fishing communities may broaden and deepen their ability to adapt to climate change. While completing my PhD, I was fortunate to do some field work in Pangnirtung, a beautiful coastal Inuit community on Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. This small, isolated community with a population of just over 1,400 is accessible only by aircraft for much of the year, and by boat during the summers. Travel in and out is extremely expensive. Residents must cope with other challenges as well, including housing shortages, high rates of food insecurity, and low rates of high school graduation. Many small Nunavut settlements face similar challenges, but in remote Pangnirtung, they are magnified

How do community-level climate change vulnerability assessments treat future vulnerability and integrate diverse datasets? A review of the literature. (Windfeld, E.J., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. and McDowell, G. 2019. Environmental Reviews).

Windfeld, E.J., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. and McDowell, G. 2019. How do community-level vulnerability assessments treat future vulnerability and integrate diverse datasets? A review of the literature. Environmental Reviews, 27(4), pp. 427-434.

Community-level vulnerability assessments (VAs) are important for understanding how populations experience vulnerabilities to climate change in different ways given local socioeconomic and environmental factors. Despite recent expansion in the literature that evaluates vulnerability at the local level, approaches to understanding future scenarios and to integrating climatic and nonclimatic factors are inconsistent and often lack clear methodological information. This study utilized systematic review methods to characterize and compare future scenarios and the integration of climatic and nonclimatic stimuli in community-focused VAs published over the last five years. Five common methods for assessing future dimensions of vulnerability were characterized. Key challenges regarding sources and scales of information were highlighted alongside methods to integrate data spanning climatic and nonclimatic information at scales ranging from local to global. The majority of VAs considered current and past vulnerability; few VAs incorporated future scenarios and these studies focused on future climatic conditions while largely overlooking changes in nonclimatic drivers of vulnerability. Approaches to evaluate future dimensions of vulnerability included climate model projections, socioeconomic model projections, temporal analogue approaches, longitudinal approaches, and local perceptions. These methods often failed to capture the dynamic interactions between variables through time, as future impacts are unlikely to follow previous patterns of change. To combine datasets of different scales, VAs created vulnerability indices, overlaid spatial datasets, or used expert judgement. These approaches tended to aggregate local characteristics to the regional level at the expense of community specificity. There is a need for methodological advances to assess future scenarios and to combine datasets in the field of community-level climate change VAs to make these studies more responsive to local realities and relevant to the development of climate change adaptation strategies.

James presents to Royal Canadian Navy

December 4th. James gave an invited talk to the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Maritime Warfare Centre on climate change, search and rescue, and emergency response in the Arctic. Joining colleagues Dr Ashlee Cunsolo, Derrick Pottle, and Inez Shiwak, their joint talk assessed what climate change might mean for RCN operations in the Arctic and opportunities to build capacity for strengthening emergency response.

Researching in Indigenous Contexts Network, 2019

Following their first full-day workshop in June 2019, The Researching in Indigenous Contexts group at the University of Leeds had their kick-off meeting earlier this month to continue with their work and plan for the upcoming year. The meeting was well-attended by researchers across the University, from Law school to the Earth sciences, and represented many different regions, including the Caucasus region, Australia and Central Africa.

If you are interested in this group’s work, email Anuszka ( to be added to the mailing list and join the Facebook group (

Anuszka presents findings from Master’s thesis at ArcticNet2019

Last week, Anuszka Maton-Mosurska presented her Master’s work on operationalising community-based and participatory approaches to research in Alaska at ArcticNet’s Annual Scientific Meeting 2019. Presenting in the Arctic Disaster Risk Reduction session, she unpacked the theory around ‘participation’ and ‘community’, ultimately highlighting the inappropriateness of applying Western sociological theory to Indigenous contexts. She looks forward to applying these insights to her future work in community-based disaster risk reduction in the Arctic.