Knowledge Mobilization in Community-based Arctic Research

Flynn, M. and Ford, J.D. 2020. Knowledge Mobilization in Community-based Arctic Research. Arctic, 73(2), pp. 141-227.

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) is widely recognized as being essential to research, but there is limited academic guidance on how to do this well. This paper builds on the growing body of literature to develop a framework of key principles for KMb focused on Indigenous communities in the North American Arctic. We used a literature search and coding of identified good practice from both the grey and peer-reviewed literature (n = 80), alongside semi-structured interviews (n = 24) with key stakeholders to determine a framework of key principles and to contextualize and identify gaps or challenges. We found that effective KMb occurs throughout the research process and varies widely across regions and by researcher and community. Ultimately, there is no checklist of specific actions to ensure effective KMb, nor would such a list be desirable given the need to tailor KMb to specific contexts. However, we have identified three key principles of effective KMb: 1) respect, 2) mutual understanding, and 3) researcher responsibility. Underlying these principles is the consideration of trust and relationship building. Though these notions are based on subtle and nuanced context and vary from place to place, they all involve the consideration of formal and informal processes of KMb with Arctic research. By highlighting these key principles, we provide a framework to increase effectiveness of KMb across environmental change research within Arctic communities.

Assessing the feasibility of adaptation options: methodological advancements and directions for climate adaptation research and practice

Singh, C., Ford, J.D., Ley, D., Bazaz, A. and Revi, A. 2020. Assessing the feasibility of adaptation options: methodological advancements and directions for climate adaptation research and practice. Climatic Change, article online.

The Paris Agreement put adaptation prominently on the global climate action agenda. Despite a surge in research and praxis-based knowledge on adaptation, a critical policy roadblock is synthesizing and assessing this burgeoning evidence. We develop an approach to assess the multidimensional feasibility of adaptation options in a robust and transparent manner, providing direction for global climate policy and identifying knowledge gaps to further future climate research. The approach, which was tested in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 °C (SR1.5) to assess 23 adaptation options, is underpinned by a systematic review of recent literature, expert elicitation, and iterative peer review. It responds to the challenge of limited agreement on adaptation indicators, lack of fine-scale adaptation data, and challenges of assessing synergies and trade-offs with mitigation. The findings offer methodological insights into how future assessments such as the IPCC Assessment Report (AR) six and regional, national, and sectoral assessment exercises could assess adaptation feasibility and synthesize the growing body of knowledge on climate change adaptation.

Progress in climate change adaptation in the Arctic

Canosa, I.V., Ford, J.D., McDowell, G., Jones, J. and Pearce, T. 2020. Progress in climate change adaptation in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters, article online.

Climate adaptation is a priority for Arctic regions which are witnessing some of the most rapid warming globally. Studies have documented examples of adaptation responses in the Arctic, but assessments evaluating if and how progress is being made over time remain scarce. We identify and examine adaptation progress in the Arctic using a systematic tracking methodology to compare adaptations documented during 2014-19 to those documented for the period 2004-2013 in a benchmark study by Ford et al (2014). Utilising the peer reviewed literature as out data source, we find no noticeable increase in reported adaptations across the two time periods, with the profile of adaptations undertaken remaining largely the same. The majority of documented adaptations continue to be reported in North America, are being undertaken most often in the subsistence-based hunting and fishing sector, are primarily developed in response to a combination of climatic and non-climatic stimuli, are reactive and behavioural in nature, and are mainly carried out at the individual/community scale. Climate change is observed, however, to have a more prominent role in motivating adaptation between 2014-19, consistent with intensifying climate-related exposures in the Arctic. There is limited evidence in the reported adaptations analysed that potential opportunities and benefits from the impacts of climate change are being targeted. The paper provides a general characterisation of adaptation across the Arctic and how it is evolving, and needs to be complimented in follow-up work by studies using alternative data sources on adaptation and research at national to regional scales.

Conceptualizing Climate Vulnerability in Complex Adaptive Systems

Naylor, A., Ford, J., Pearce, T. and Van Alstine, J. 2020. Conceptualizing Climate Vulnerability in Complex Adaptive Systems. One Earth, 2(5), pp. 444-454.

This Perspective develops a novel approach for assessing the vulnerability of complex adaptive systems to climate change. Our characterization focuses on the dynamic nature of vulnerability and its role in developing differential risk across multi-dimensional systems, communities, or societies. We expand on past conceptualizations that have examined vulnerability as processual rather than a static or binary state and note the necessary role of complexity and complex adaptive systems theory as a basis for effective vulnerability assessment. In illustrating our approach, we demonstrate the importance of factors such as modulation (connectedness), feedback mechanisms, redundancy, and the susceptibility of individual components within a system to change. Understanding the complexity of potentially vulnerable systems in this manner can help unravel the causes of vulnerability, facilitate the identification and characterization of potential adaptive deficits within specific dimensions of complex adaptive systems, and direct opportunities for adaptation.

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.