Project Summary

The Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) initiative has been providing a forum for scientists to share knowledge across disciplines since 2014 on topics related to Arctic infrastructure and climate change. In 2019, the RATIC initiative became the T-MOSAiC Arctic Infrastructure Action Group. The RATIC/T-MOSAiC workshop at ASSW 2021 was a three-hour online meeting for participants to share progress and insights on RATIC-related research from around the Arctic. The meeting was open to all and we encouraged attendance by physical and social science researchers, including APECS members, Indigenous scholars, and representatives of Arctic communities and industry involved in research and adaptation projects. This will be followed by an in-person workshop in Tromsø at ASSW 2022 where we will continue to collaborate on activities prioritized at past RATIC workshops including 1) a framework for Arctic infrastructure mapping and monitoring, 2) strategies and best practices for codesign and codevelopment of research with industry and Arctic communities, and 3) observations from the recent MOSAIC Expedition that may improve our understanding of how polar sea ice, ocean and atmospheric changes are impacting Arctic coastal and near-coastal communities and infrastructure.

Partial Report (first part): 

At the ASSW 2021 RATIC Meets T-MOSAiC community meeting on 21 March, nine speakers shared insights from their research related to Arctic infrastructure. The three-hour online meeting included presentations from physical and social science researchers and engineers working across the Arctic. Topics included: Active layer monitoring for infrastructure management; combining remote sensing methods to map the extent of infrastructure; multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding permafrost-related changes in natural and built environments; geotemperature modeling to identify geocryological hazards; participatory mapping of informal roads; and community perspectives on issues related to infrastructure development and sustainability. The meeting agenda and presentation slides are on the RATIC website at www.geobotany.uaf.edu/ratic/workshop2021.php. 

As part of their presentations, speakers were asked to address how they were working with Arctic communities, government or industry; how they planned to "share back" their data and findings with Arctic communities and other stakeholders; and best practices or lessons learned that could be transferable to other projects. Among the takeaways shared: 

• Methods: Mixed approaches that combine qualitative and quantitative methods play an increasing role in research on infrastructure. Even within one discipline, such as remote sensing, combining several approaches (e.g. gradient boosting machines and deep learning) may yield more success, with value added from incorporating datasets from other disciplines. 

• Codevelopment: Start with a research question that is driven by local needs and priorities; Co-determine sensor/survey locations based on community-specific challenges and needs. 

• Sharing back: Disseminate results in a popular format (e.g. illustrated brochures in local and regional languages, multi-media archives); Follow CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance (www.gida-global.org/care). 

• Developing best practices: Study your work as you go (e.g. participant observation of team meetings and community workshops; interviews with collaborators and stakeholders). 

The meeting was organized by the T-MOSAiC Arctic Infrastructure Action Group. This online meeting will be followed by an in-person workshop in Tromsø at ASSW 2022.

Partial Report (second part): 

The Arctic Infrastructure Community Meeting at ASSW 2022 in Tromsø featured presentations and panel discussion exploring cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding the impacts of infrastructure and climate change in the Arctic. The RATIC/T-MOSAiC Arctic Infrastructure Action Group organized the meeting as a cross-cutting activity funded by the International Arctic Science Committee. Twenty-four people attended the hybrid meeting in person and at least an equal number attended online.

Community Perspectives on Arctic Infrastructure

● What constitutes infrastructure can vary depending on viewpoint. From a traditional indigenous perspective, the environment IS infrastructure.

● Involvement of local and indigenous knowledge in science can improve projects in terms of performance and budget, but engagement shouldn’t end at the planning stage. Incremental growth of infrastructure projects can be detrimental to traditional lifestyles even where projects started with best practices for engagement.

● The “Green transition” should not happen on the backs of indigenous communities. Displacing reindeer herders with overscaled wind farms to export energy to the south is an example of Green colonialism.

● More research is needed on why scientists and others don’t listen to Indigenous communities.

Progress and Approaches in Arctic Infrastructure Mapping and Monitoring

● Remote sensing can help to map human-built infrastructure and identify potential risks due to permafrost thaw. Sentinel-1/2 derived impacted areas provide more detail than any other currently available records for the Arctic.

● Satellites provide a vast amount of data that can be analyzed with the help of machine learning, but a significant amount of human labor is still needed to validate data and classify infrastructure types. How do we prioritize this effort?

● The expansion of infrastructure is more often the focus of research, but we should also look at what happens to abandoned infrastructure.

● Research in progress includes:

○ Circumpolar mapping of Arctic infrastructure and expansion of human impacts within 100 km of the Arctic coast (Nunataryuk)

○ Pan-arctic mapping of ice-wedge polygons using machine learning (Permafrost Discovery Gateway)

○ Mapping changes in permafrost status and extent (Permafrost CCI )

○ Long-term observations on the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring network (CALM)

○ Framework for studying risks from permafrost thaw in the Arctic and Arctic Permafrost Atlas (Nunataryuk) Meeting

Highlights: 

● The Arctic Infrastructure Community Meeting at ASSW 2022 in Tromsø featured presentations and panel discussion exploring cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding the impacts of infrastructure and climate change in the Arctic.

● Community Perspectives: What constitutes infrastructure can vary depending on viewpoint. From a traditional indigenous perspective, the environment IS infrastructure. However, the “Green transition” should not happen on the backs of indigenous communities. Displacing reindeer herders with overscaled wind farms to export energy to the south is an example of Green colonialism.

● Mapping and modeling: Satellites provide a vast amount of data that can be analyzed with the help of machine learning to map human-built infrastructure and identify potential risks due to permafrost thaw, but a significant amount of human labor is still needed to validate data and classify infrastructure types. How do we prioritize this effort?



Date and Location: 

26 March 2022 | Where: Tromsø (Norway), ASSW2022

 

IASC Working Groups / Committees funding the Project:

 

Project Lead

Jana Peirce

 

Year funded by IASC

 2020

 

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