Collaborative Research: NNA Collaboratory: Measuring Urban Sustainability in Transition (MUST): Co-Designing Future Arctic Cities in the Anthropocene (NSF)

Arctic cities are focal points where natural, social, and built systems connect and interact with each other. This collaborative effort builds on previous NSF-funded work that developed a database measuring 128 indicators across 19 topics in 46 Arctic cities providing a snapshot of current conditions. This effort will develop theories and test hypotheses in the natural, social, and urban planning sciences by adding historical data to the existing dataset making it possible to explore trends over time and relationships among the various components of urban sustainability. For example, as the energy systems shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources, there will be significant impacts for transportation, housing, and tourism. Understanding these linkages will make it possible for policy makers and scientists to understand the trade-offs inherent in adopting policies for modifying existing infrastructure and developing the future

built environment, as well as identifying the types of adaptive governance systems required for the evolving conditions. By focusing on Arctic cities, this team will apply the extensive existing theoretical and empirical work on urban systems to Arctic conditions and, in turn, further develop the scientific literature by contributing new insights gained from studying Arctic cities. This project will work with Indigenous and settler communities in Fairbanks, Alaska, Yellowknife, Canada, Luleå, Sweden, and Yakutsk and Naryan-Mar, Russia, to co-develop a set of metrics to address their key challenges.

Partners: George Washington University, University of Virginia, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Saskatchewan, Nordrego, and Lulea Technological University 

Frozen Commons: Change, Resilience and Sustainability in the Arctic (NSF)

This project applies convergent methodologies to study the Arctic Frozen Commons, defined as the ice, snow, and permafrost landscapes collectively used and governed by communities and numerous non-local stakeholders. While significant knowledge exists around biophysical characteristics of the cryosphere, this remains largely separate from its cultural and social understandings among local and Indigenous communities, culminating in poor integration around the use and governance of Frozen Commons in a rapidly changing Arctic. An enhanced understanding of interacting processes in the social, cultural, technological, environmental, and governance domains for frozen commons is critical to framing sustainable Arctic futures. This project will advance transdisciplinary research by converging Arts, Science, Local and Indigenous Knowledge systems (ArtSLInK) for developing a deeper understanding of FC resilience and sustainability.

Partners: The project is a transdisciplinary and comparative research effort in collaboration with the George Washington University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of New Hampshire, Alaska Pacific University, and Arizona State University. 

ARC-NAV: Arctic Robust Communities-Navigating Adaptation to Variability (NSF)

The Arctic is warming on average twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, which is leading to significant changes in sea ice to which local communities must respond. Beringia, a region of the Arctic encompassing US and Russian territory, is expected to experience some of the highest variability in sea ice conditions in the coming century. This project focuses on the question: how do we design better and more flexible governance and infrastructure to adapt to changing Arctic conditions? To answer this question, the team is taking a convergence approach to forecast potential changes in the Arctic sea ice environment and the impacts on social and ecological systems resulting from those changes and identify adaptive strategies to enhance resilience to those impacts. The project engages local and Indigenous communities and decision makers in the Kamchatka, Chukotka and Alaska throughout the research process to generate information and models about critical hot spots of sea ice change relevant to local communities. This will help build local and regional governance capacity and allow the researchers to model and predict the robustness of communities to forecast changes. This project will document diverse narratives and critical policy challenges around biogeophysical changes and associated livelihood and economic opportunities/costs between and within communities through grounded ethnography and cultural consensus analysis. Satellite data will be used to highlight “hot spots” of sea ice variability and provide a starting point for community and stakeholders’ discussions of “change”. Interviews with governance actors will identify priorities and responses and generate spatially explicit policy networks. A multi-agent model will link these analyses and be utilized to explore the diversity of issues, projections of change, and fragility or robustness of communities and the infrastructure systems they rely on. Through this research, the project will derive new understandings of community and institutional responses to change, the impacts of spatial and temporal variability within a trend, and robustness-fragility trade-offs that can be applied to other regions as they navigate transitions around the globe in the Anthropocene.

Tracking the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Arctic (COVITA) (NSF)

This project focuses on the development and deployment of a real-time web-based COVID-19 data hub managed by an interdisciplinary team of experts in data science, geoinformatics, epidemiology and geography. The team is collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data on the spatial and temporal dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Arctic. Both datasets and analyses of spatiotemporal trends at the subregional level will be made available to stakeholders including Arctic residents, researchers, and policymakers. Pandemic data are be contextualized through the collection of first-person accounts of the COVID-19 experience in Arctic communities. The team is also developing geovisualization tools and analyze datasets to address urgent questions related to the spread and geography of COVID-19 in the Arctic, assessing containment and mitigation policies and evaluating whether case fatality rates are affected by environmental, socioeconomic, and/or geographic variables. Long-term curation of Arctic COVID-19 data and data products will ensure availability for future analysis, historical study and policy consideration.

arcticcovid website

Benefit Sharing and Sustainability in the Arctic (Arctic-BeST)

Benefits shared by extractive energy sector operating in the Arctic are highly variable and depend on institutional, financial, political, and geographical settings. Benefit sharing policy for Arctic regions is essential, as it impacts the livelihoods of thousands of Arctic residents who depend on land, sea, and access to natural resources. It is important that the energy sector shares a portion derived from the resource extraction with the local inhabitants in an equitable, transparent, and just way, allowing all stakeholders to be a part of the process and outcome of benefit sharing. In other words, benefit sharing arrangements must contribute to sustainable development in Arctic communities. There is an urgent need to improve our knowledge base about benefit sharing in the Arctic energy sector and we urge the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group or the newly formed Arctic Economic Council to conduct a synthesis study with the aim of finding best practices, identifying lessons learned, and initiating an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process of developing guidelines for companies on benefit-sharing arrangements in the Arctic. Given the complexity of legal, institutional, natural, and cultural settings, this work could be conducted by expert groups embedded in both the energy industry and communities across the Arctic. This process could go concurrently with and be a supplement to the emerging Arctic Investment Protocol.

position paper

Young Arctic Leaders in Research and Policy (YALReP) (NSF)

Creating an effective system for integrated environmental management and socio-economic governance is important for successful development of the Arctic. Improving governance and management practices requires training a new generation of scholars, managers and leaders who are capable of understanding complexity, systemic change and resilience of coastal social-ecological systems using up-to-date systems science, management techniques and implementation frameworks. The YALREP program applies a transdisciplinary approach to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the complex suite of biogeophysical, socioeconomic and political factors driving current and future Arctic coastal transformation, including introducing the resilience model. The program focuses on the leadership and professional development training. A cohort of 7-8 participants was selected to undertake a rigorous and continuous training over the course of the 3 years until completion of the RCN grant. Leadership and professional development curricula will include interactive training though workshops, mentorship program and community interaction opportunities.

more details

Arctic Youth and Sustainable Futures (NCM)

Following up on a key recommendation in AHDR-II (2015), this project (2016-18) on “Arctic Youth and Sustainable Futures” (Arctic Youth) convenes an international working group of Arctic scholars, alongside Arctic youth representatives, to investigate and conduct research on the needs, opportunities and aspirations of Arctic youth, to fill an identified gap in knowledge on the lives, ambitions, needs and challenges of youth – indigenous and non-indigenous – across the circumpolar Arctic. The future of the Arctic will be determined by the choices youth make and their priorities in terms of culture and identities, where to study and where to live, and what occupations and lifestyles to pursue, as well as their choices concerning factors that affect the environment, and the impacts and adaptation to climate change. The working group will research the literature and existing knowledge, determine the scope of an edited volume in terms of topics in consultation with Arctic youth and an Arctic Youth Advisory Committee, conduct interviews, focus group discussions, a youth action forum, and web-based surveys, and thereby contribute to our knowledge on sustainable options for Arctic communities and localities, urban and rural, thus with a project well rooted at the local and regional level.

more details

Arctic Horizons Project (NSF)

The Arctic Horizons project will bring together members of the Arctic social science research and indigenous communities to reassess the goals, potentials, and needs of these diverse communities and NSF Arctic Social Science Program within the context of a rapidly changing circumpolar North. A series of five topical and regional workshops held across the country will bring together approximately 150 western and indigenous scholars to discuss the future of Arctic social science research. Additional participation by the broader Arctic social sciences, indigenous science, and stakeholder communities will be solicited through an interactive web platform that will also share workshop and project outcomes, supported by special sessions at national and regional conferences. The results of the workshops and on-line input will be compiled at a final synthesis workshop with a report produced to describes the community’s vision for the future of Arctic social science research. This re-envisioning process will help shape future Arctic social science research and inform Arctic economic, environmental, and political policy development.

more details

  RCN Arctic-COAST: Arctic COASTal Community and Environmental Resilience International Interdisciplinary Research Coordination Network (NSF)

This project establishes an international Research Coordination Network (RCN) Arctic-COAST for science-policy interface among researchers, policy and decision makers, and young local and indigenous leaders to better understand and enhance resilience to ongoing dramatic changes in the Arctic. Arctic-COAST will provide an interface between the transdisciplinary research of biophysical, socio-economic, and decision-making academic research domains and policy applications to address the resilience of coastal socio-ecological systems. The Arctic coastal zone, especially in Eurasia, lacks an integrated framework for monitoring socio-ecological systems that could provide key observations for measuring resilience and assessing environmental and community sustainability. Knowledge and policy gaps exist with respect to understanding coastal socio-ecological systems, indicators of sustainability and resilience, scenario-based modeling, and scientific foundations for adaptive governance responses in the Arctic.

more details

  Creative Arctic Project (NSF)

This project applies a novel approach to the role of creative capital and human agency and its affect on social and economic development in Northern communities. PI Petrov will examine data from Alaska, Canada, Russia, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, and Finland to examine the role of creative capital, defined as a stock of creative abilities and knowledge(s) embodied in a group of individuals who either possess high levels of education and/or are engaged in creative (scientific, artistic, entrepreneurial or technological) types of activities, in economic development in these communities. The investigator points out that most creative class research has been done in metropolitan areas and thus has marginalized peripheries, such as Arctic, frequently indigenous, rural communities. This research would apply the concept to more rural, northern areas in hopes of developing new ways of understanding the successes and failures of northern economic development programs. ARCSES also maintains   Creative Arctic website for researchers, classroom use, and informing local entrepreneurs, policy makers, and indigenous communities and interest groups interested in economic development in their regions.

more details

  Research Coordination Network Arctic-FROST: Arctic FRontiers Of SusTainability: Resources, Societies, Environments and Development in the Changing North (NSF)

Project leads: Andrey Petrov, Timothy Heleniak, Jessica Graybill, Peter Schweitzer

RCN-SEES Arctic-FROST builds an international interdisciplinary collaborative network that teams together environmental and social scientists, local educators and community members from all circumpolar countries to enable and mobilize research on sustainable Arctic development, specifically aimed at improving health, human development and well-being of Arctic communities while conserving ecosystem structures, functions and resources. It is first U.S.-based circumpolar initiative of this kind and magnitude after the International Polar Year (2007-08). The purpose of the project is to contribute to conceptual, applied and educational aspects of sustainability science about the Arctic and beyond.

Arctic-FROST website

  Arctic Social Indicators (NSF/Norden/Arctic Council) Project leads: Joan Nymand Larsen, Peter Schweitzer, Gail Fondahl, Andrey Petrov

The Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) I and II projects are follow-up activities associated with decadal Arctic Human Development Reports (AHDR). ASI has been endorsed by the Arctic Council. The goal is to device Arctic social indicators which will help facilitate monitoring of human development in the Arctic over time. Development of a monitoring system of human development in the Arctic is helpful from the perspective of those involved in the policy process. ASI I and ASI II provide a framework of baseline indicators reflecting the status of Arctic cultures, the evolution of indigenous rights,  the growth of the region’s economy, and other societal domains. The objective is to devise and apply a limited set of indicators that reflect key aspects of human development in the Arctic, that are tractable in terms of measurement, and that can be monitored over time at a reasonable cost in terms of labour and material resources.

  Sustainable Development, Human Well-being and Socio-Economic Impacts Monitoring (SSHRC-ReSDA) Participants: Andrey Petrov, Chris Southcott, Philip Cavin, Simon Routh

Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) is a research network that brings together researchers from a broad range of disciplines and organizations representing communities, government, the private sector and non-profit organizations. Through partnerships and collaborations we will conduct and mobilize research aimed at the sustainable development of Arctic natural resources in a manner that will improve the health and well being of northern communities while preserving the region’s unique environment. Adequate monitoring impacts of resource development is one of the key prerequisites for ensuring sustainable development in Arctic communities. Development of comprehensive, inclusive and measurable socio-economic impact indicators is a challenging task that requires a synthesis of international experie4nce and best practices of community-based monitoring. The Baseline Indicators projects is a collaborative pilot study between ReSDA, Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) projects and the Indigenous communities (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC)). The goal of the Baseline Indicators project is to develop a set of measurable, reliable and accessible indicators to monitor socio-economic conditions in the Canadian Arctic with an emphasis on tracking impacts of resource development. This effort is focused on creating a framework to be used by local actors to collect, manage and analyze community-based data.

  Taimyr Reindeer and Environmental Change (TREC) and Taimyr Reindeer Migration Reanalysis (TAMARA) (NSF) Participants: Andrey Petrov, Anna Pestereva, Leonid Kolpashchikov, Matthew Cooney, Vladimir Mikhailov

Background: Taimyr wild reindeer herd is one of the largest and most monitored in the world. Available historic data displays change in the herd population as well as spatial distribution during the last 50 years. These changes correspond with similar situation with the North American Caribou herds and their reasons are not yet fully understood. Our project represents a unique experience of systematic compiling historic data on the herd population number and location of seasonal concentrations together with information about the environmental factors that affect the spatial distribution of the animals, such as climatic, biomass and other factors. Besides creating the spatial database of above-mentioned data, GIS analysis is conducted to define possible correlations between the environmental factors and reindeer population distribution, and to make prognosis of animal spatial behavior given the environmental changes.

  Arctic Fires Exploratory Study (NASA-ISGC)

Participants: Andrey Petrov, Jonathon Launspach, Jonathan Beavers

Background: The Arctic Fires Exploratory Study (AFES) aims to conduct an exploratory spatiotemporal analysis to reveal spatial patterns and temporal fluctuations of wildfire events in different parts of the Arctic. Tundra wildfires have an important impact on arctic ecosystems. Since tundra vegetation is very slow to recover, wildfires can substantially alter the amount of biomass and animal abundance in affected areas. Whereas boreal forest fires are well studied, the knowledge base about tundra wildfires is limited. Most arctic fires take place in remote areas and remain unmonitored from the ground or air. This study uses MODIS-derived active fire data to analyze spatial and temporal patterns of tundra wildfires between 2000 and present.

REU IDREHSI (NSF)

Project leads: Bingqing Liang, Andrey Petrov

The Interdisciplinary Research Experience in Hyperspectral Imaging (IDREHSI) program is the National Science Foundation’s REU site that focuses on introducing young scientists to a highly interdisciplinary research environment with a unifying theme of fundamental and applied research in hyperspectral imaging. The IDRESHI program offers an 8-week summer school with a focus on field and lab-based hyperspectral imaging applications where students are engaged in faculty-directed collaborative interdisciplinary research. Application of hyperspectral imagery to study landscapes and their dynamics in the Arctic is an important focus area in IDREHSI. Young scientists are engaged in analyzing  ice conditions, wildfire prorogation, human disturbance and vegetation change in various Arctic and Subarctic regions.

 Creative Arctic Project (NSF)

This project applies a novel approach to the role of creative capital and human agency and its affect on social and economic development in Northern communities. PI Petrov will examine data from Alaska, Canada, Russia, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, and Finland to examine the role of creative capital, defined as a stock of creative abilities and knowledge(s) embodied in a group of individuals who either possess high levels of education and/or are engaged in creative (scientific, artistic, entrepreneurial or technological) types of activities, in economic development in these communities. The investigator points out that most creative class research has been done in metropolitan areas and thus has marginalized peripheries, such as Arctic, frequently indigenous, rural communities. This research would apply the concept to more rural, northern areas in hopes of developing new ways of understanding the successes and failures of northern economic development programs. ARCSES also maintains   Creative Arctic website for researchers, classroom use, and informing local entrepreneurs, policy makers, and indigenous communities and interest groups interested in economic development in their regions.

Polar Geography Specialty Group of AAG Polar Geography Specialty Group of AAG was officially formed in 2012. The goal of the SG is to provide a forum for exchange and collaboration for polar scientists from different disciplines.  PGSG holds annual meetings in conjunction with the AAG Annual Meeting, as well as co-sponsored other events. Membership is open to researchers from all countries. Dr. Petrov served as PGSG Vice-Chair, and PGSG is co-headquartered at ARCSES. Polar Geography is a PGSG partner and a leading interdisciplinary journal of polar research that offers a venue for scholarly research on the physical and human aspects of the Polar Regions.  The emphasizes the interplay of the natural systems, the complex historical, political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and security issues, and the interchange amongst them. The journal welcomes comparative approaches, critical scholarship, and alternative and disparate perspectives. Dr. Petrov serves as journal’s Associate Editor. The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) is an association of social scientists, humanities scholars and others interested in the Arctic (including Subarctic). IASSA has Observer Status at the Arctic Council, and is a member of the International Social Sciences Council. IASSA maintains close relations with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the University of the Arctic, and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists. IASSA has over 600 members from 30 countries.  Anyone who is interested in Arctic/Subarctic social sciences and humanities, and who subscribes to ICASS’s objectives (www.iassa.org) is welcome to join.  Membership privileges include access to ICASS meetings (open to members only), a semi-annual newsletter, access to receive and post messages on the IASSA listserv, and other benefits.  Dr. Petrov is the member of IASSA Council.