The Arctic is in the spotlight like never before. Scientists and environmentalists watch it as a bellwether of global climate change, while nations and corporations seek to exploit the region’s oil, gas and mineral reserves, and new shipping routes. Yet most discussions of the Arctic fail to consider how changes in climate, ecosystems, economics, and society interact.
The Arctic Resilience Report (ARR), led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), set out to fill that gap. What it found is that the combination of multiple, dramatic changes is pushing social-ecological systems to their limits.
Be prepared for surprises
"The Arctic is changing so fast and in so many interacting ways that it affects the very fabric of ecosystems and societies," says Annika E. Nilsson, senior research fellow at SEI and scientific coordinator of the first phase of the ARR.
"We have to be prepared for surprises, and we need to increase the capacity to adapt and to grapple with conflicting priorities."
"When people talk about global change, they often assume that it will happen fairly steadily, and that people and ecosystems will be able to make step-by-step adjustments over time, but we document a growing body of research that shows this is far from always the case," says Sarah Cornell, lead author of the ARR’s thresholds analysis and coordinator of the Planetary Boundaries research initiative at SRC.
Learn more about the Arctic Resilience Report and download the Interim Report from the Arctic Council website.