Arctic resilience to climate change

The resilience of the Arctic as a region will depend on how climate effects and climate adaptations at different scales interact and affect each other.”

Arctic regions are characterised by unique ecosystems that have adapted to cold climate and human societies with strong nature connections. The effects of climate change are felt earlier in Arctic regions than anywhere else in the world, requiring us to urgently understand and mitigate climate effects to ensure the well-being of Arctic ecosystems and people. New research by Dr. Griffith and colleagues investigates the resilience of Arctic marine communities to climate change impacts. My article discusses their findings in a wider context, emphasising the importance of understanding Arctic resilience: the ability of the Arctic to cope with the change and adapt to it without losing the essential identity and function of the region.

Importantly, in this article I point out that for a large part, the resilience of the Arctic as a region will depend on how climate effects and adaptations at different scales (species, communities, physical environment, local societies, global community) interact and affect each other. At best, more adaptive Arctic systems can strengthen the resilience of less adaptive parts of the region. But these interactions may also form reinforcing feedbacks that decrease the overall Arctic resilience. Thus, Arctic resilience must be investigated with multiple perspectives and diverse research methods.

Synthesizing research findings and continuing Arctic climate impact research (such as that by Griffith and colleagues) will provide much-needed lessons for strengthening Arctic resilience and planetary resilience to climate change.

Yletyinen J. 2019. Arctic climate resilience. Nature Climate Change 9(805–806). Read here.

Using exponential random graph modelling to detect community-wide regime shifts in food webs: read more. This approach is neatly improved by Griffith and colleagues in their article!

I’ve also done a minor contribution to Arctic Resilience Report 2016, which is a much recommended reading on the topic.

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