@ccadapt News

Anne presents first findings on applying machine learning to adaptation literature

The Applied Machine Learning Days are an annual conference where the focus is not just on the latest technical advances in computer science, but also on how this technology can best be used. This year, for the first time there was a track on climate change. Anne presented the first findings of his PhD project at the poster session of this track.

For this project, Anne used a Support Vector Machine to select abstracts that are relevant to climate change adaptation. This resulted in a dataset of nearly 45 thousand abstracts. He then further analysed this data using Topic Modelling (LDA), network clustering of co-citations, and geo-parsers. The result is a snapshot of a rapidly developing and diverse but also somewhat segmented and unequal field of studies.

PhD Opportunity at University of Leeds: Climate change, cultural representation, and climate justice in the Arctic

Key facts

PhD Application deadline Saturday 29 February 2020
Project start: Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility: UK and EU Funding Competition funded
Supervisors: Professor James Ford
Additional supervisors: Dr Vlad Strukov


The Arctic is witnessing the most dramatic climate change globally, warming at least twice the global average, and is projected to witness the most warming anywhere globally this century. The rapidly declining sea ice and threats to iconic species such as polar bear have put the region at the centre of media attention on climate change, underpinning claims for stronger global action to reduce emissions. Attention to the Arctic in popular discourse is welcome, as the region has often been neglected, but also comes with dangers. The Arctic, for example, is often framed as a wilderness devoid of people, overlooking the long history of Indigenous habitation in the region. Furthermore, the promotion of the Arctic as a ‘miners canary’ of climate change—however well-intentioned—neglects the fact that the canaries are real people and more than mere sentinels of impending global disaster. Such discourse matters because it shapes policies, procedures, and programmes; that is, it defines the solution-space. Whether it be calls to ban traditional Indigenous harvesting practices to protect iconic species, abandon communities to rising sea levels, or promoting geoengineering schemes (e.g. seeding Arctic sea ice), the needs and aspirations of local people rarely figure. There is growing resistance to such outside representation of the Arctic, led by Indigenous communities and Indigenous activists who are placing human rights, decolonisation, and human agency at the heart of the debate about climate change. These developments, in turn, are part of a growing global interest in climate justice. Various media have been used to this end, from community-led filmmaking, fashion, art, digital storytelling, photography, and theatre, to the more traditional activism around UN climate meetings. The proposed PhD project will examine these growing resistance movements that attempt to reclaim the debate on climate change and promote climate justice, asking: i) how is climate justice being articulated in Arctic Indigenous cultures? ii) what drives people to stand up for climate justice (e.g. motivations, ethical commitments, worldviews)? iii) how are diverse forms of media (film, fashion, digital media, art) used to promote climate justice across cultures and scales? iv) how effective have such movements been and what lessons do they offer for other regions struggling with similar issues? and v). are there examples of policy change as a result of such action? These questions will be explored through in-depth participatory research in the Canadian Arctic and the Russian Arctic. Diverse methods from the humanities and social

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University’s website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the research degree you wish to be considered for is “Climate change, cultural representation, and climate justice in the Arctic” as well as Professor James Ford (https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/see/staff/1030/professor-james-ford) and Dr Vald Strukov (https://www.vladstrukov.com/) as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English language requirements (below).

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Entry requirements

Applicants to PhD research degree programmes should normally have a Master’s degree and at least a first class or an Upper Second Class Bachelors Honours degree. If you hold relevant work, or other, experience the Faculty may consider this in lieu of a Masters qualification, please check with the relevant school prior to making an application. To study a Masters by Research degree you should hold, or currently be studying towards, a Bachelors Honours degree, in an appropriate discipline where your current or predicted award is at least a first class or upper second class degree. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the Graduate School prior to making an application.

English language requirements

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate study is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking), or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some Schools, such as the School of Media and Communications, have a higher requirement.

Funding on offer

This is a 3 years scholarship funded by the University of Leeds through the Priestley International Centre for Climate. The award will provide tuition fees (£4,500 for 2019/20), tax-free stipend at the UK research council rate (£15,009 for 2019/20), and a research training and support grant of £750 per annum

Contact details

For information about the project, please contact Prof James Ford (j.ford2@leeds.ac.uk) or Dr Vlad Strukhov (V.Strukov@leeds.ac.uk).  For further information about the application procedure, please contact the Graduate School Office env-pgr@leeds.ac.uk.

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

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 (ss18arm@leeds.ac.uk) to be added to the mailing list and join the Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/453537565228343/).

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.