Exploring the Impacts and Opportunities in a Rapidly Changing Arctic
The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world due to climate change. As a result, the Northwest Passage is becoming accessible for trade, tourism and resource development. Sea ice loss has resulted in a tripling of Arctic shipping traffic in Canada over the past two decades.
Given these developments, it is vital that we understand the social, economic and geo-political implications of these changes. How can the impacts and opportunities of environmental and economic change in the Arctic be best balanced? Dr. Jackie Dawson, Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society, and Policy, considers this question daily. To answer it, she and her research team are focusing on three key issues: Arctic shipping and oceans governance, Arctic economic development, and coastal communities and climate change.
The development of a geospatial ship tracking database in 1990 provided a way to understand the rapid change in shipping traffic in relation to climate and sea ice change. Looking at the trends by vessel type has given researchers insights into what ships are in the Canadian Arctic, what the risks are, and what management and policy options may be needed to ensure sustainable and self-determined development in Inuit Nunangat (Arctic Canada).
Understanding the implications of a rapidly changing Canadian Arctic means working in partnership with northern stakeholders, including communities, industry and government. Interdisciplinary research by Dawson and her team will generate knowledge that can position Canada as a leader in Arctic oceans governance in a changing climate.