Final Project Report

This workshop was organized as part of an IASC Cross-Cutting Initiative on Arctic urbanization and sustainable development (involving AWG, SHWG, TWG). It was co-organized by the international initiative Air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Society (PACES), the Pan Eurasian Experiment (PEEX) and the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmospheric Watch Urban Research Meteorology and Environment project (WMO-GURME).

The aim of the workshop was to discuss research issues on Arctic urbanization under environmental and climate change from the social science, humanities and natural science perspectives with a focus on establishing a series of studies around the Arctic in cities that represent different environments and conditions. Another goal was to identify potential study locations including possible twin city pairs for cities with similar environmental and geographical profiles. The workshop, involving around 20 participants, discussed ways forward to tackle this complex and highly interdisciplinary challenge. Following a series of presentations from participants about existing activities, breakout sessions were also organized to discuss connecting research needs on atmospheric, health and urbanization and designing potential city studies.

As a way forward, a position paper is being prepared to document the current state of knowledge and to outline the study methodology with the aim to better understand potential impacts and how these might evolve under future climate change and socio-economic development scenarios. Future studies would also include examination of possible pollutant mitigation measures which are Arctic specific and that might play a role in the design of future or evolving urban areas. Links to UN Sustainable Development Goals will be highlighted, e.g. sustainable cities, human health and well being, clean energy, clean water and food security.


  • Participants shared information about on-going initiatives examining relevant issues from a) social perspectives including studies of human-environment relations in urban systems and Arctic specific health challenges which may be further affected by climate change and b) natural science perspectives including collection of observations in several Arctic cities to study air pollution or urban heat islands.

  • Several suitable cities were identified, often building on existing knowledge or on-going efforts, in northern Russia and Scandinavia. These studies may contribute to the WMO GURME Twin City approach where data collected in cities with similar characteristics is compared/contrasted and used develop strategies for the monitoring and assessment of risks (and opportunities) associated with weather and air pollution in urban environments.

  • Studies should bridge across disciplines and actively involve local and indigenous communities and local stakeholders to better understand natural processes and impacts on human health and the environment in urban areas as the climate warms, e.g. changing landscapes with temperatures above zero or people spending more time outside in winter. It will also be important to examine summertime pollution such as fires as well as wintertime anthropogenic pollution and how these sources may change with climate change. Other sources of pollution (water, contaminants) should be considered.


Date and Location

14-15 January 2020 | Helsinki (Finland)


IASC Working Groups funding the project


Project Lead

Julia Schmale


Year funded by IASC



Project Status





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