Fairbanks, Alaska -- Arctic nations have the wealth and scientific understanding to alter the course of global climate change, if they choose to do so, writes F.S. (Terry) Chapin III, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in a paper to be published August 9, 2006 in the journal Ambio.
Chapin, professor of ecology at the Institute of Arctic Biology, and co-authors offer local-to-global policy recommendations to manage Arctic conditions resulting from thawing permafrost, melting sea ice, and relaxation of thermal thresholds. "Nations that govern Arctic lands account for about 40% of global CO2 emissions and therefore have a substantial capacity to reduce the rates of Arctic change," write the authors.
Among the authors' recommendations are that Arctic nations should designate marine protected areas, designate co-managed reserve networks, foster economic adaptation to global change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "A lot of the recommendations for policy change deal with enhancing the capacity of northern regions to be flexible and adaptable to cope with changes, some of which we can predict, and others of which will be surprises," said Chapin.
An increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean could be zoned to include marine protected areas, designated shipping lanes, and fishing areas co-managed by local residents and government managers. If reserve networks were implemented, they would likely make important contributions to maintaining biodiversity, providing nursery stocks for adjacent fished areas, and ensuring against mismanagement or unexpected events outside the reserves. Economic adaptation is likely to be most effective if it includes incentives to encourage economic diversity and entrepreneurship rather than subsidies for traditional sectors adversely affected by Arctic change.
"There is a long, perhaps 50-year, time lag between implementation of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a large change in greenhouse gas conce
Contact: Marie Gilbert
University of Alaska Fairbanks