CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

The Arctic

Global climate change has caused major changes in the Arctic, and these changes are happening quickly. In recent decades the average annual temperature in the Arctic has risen about twice as much as the global average, and the extent of Arctic sea ice in the summer has decreased by almost half.

Warming in the Arctic has huge consequences for the climate, flora and fauna, and local communities in the region, but it has global ramifications as well. An ice-free ocean will absorb more heat and accelerate global warming, while the consequences of warmer seas for the ecosystem and food chain will affect humans far below the Arctic Circle.

By the same token, climate change in the Arctic creates opportunities for more activity in the shipping, petroleum and mining industries, and will be critical for future economic and demographic development in the region. How can we ensure that the Arctic resources are managed in a sustainable manner, and how will the population adapt to the changes taking place?

CICERO’s research on the Arctic extends across many different scientific fields and addresses a variety of important topics. With its broad-based portfolio, CICERO seeks to contribute to a cohesive understanding of how and why the Arctic climate is changing, and what the consequences will be for society.

The researchers at CICERO collaborate with a number of national and international research institutes, as well as with local authorities, trade and industry, and society at large.

As part of International Polar Year, researchers from CICERO were involved in the projects DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies) and CAVIAR (Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in the Arctic Regions). CICERO has also contributed to the Arctic Monitoring Assessment Programme (AMAP) and the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and is a member of the Fram Centre.

CICERO’s research in the Arctic can be divided into three main areas:

Emissions and climate impact

  • The climate impact of emissions outside the Arctic through transport over long distances.
  • The ways in which various regions and sectors contribute to pollution and climate change in the Arctic.
  • The role of soot particles, known as “black carbon”, in the Arctic climate.
  • Scenarios for increased oil and gas recovery and shipping in the Arctic, and the subsequent climate impact.
  • The potential for release of methane gas stored in permafrost and under the seafloor in a warmer Arctic region.

Consequences and adaptations

  • Identification of the climate changes that are important for local communities.
  • Adaptation to climate change in local communities, municipalities, and trade and industry in the North.
  • Downscaled scenarios for future climate.
  • Ecosystem services

Socioeconomic drivers

  • Potential demographic and economic changes in the Arctic.
  • The interplay between various drivers.
  • Sector-specific development.
  • The potential for oil and gas recovery.
  • Prospects for trade between China and Europe with the opening of new shipping routes through the Arctic.