Arctic Futures

 The Center for Arctic Policy and its affiliates contribute to a number of forward-looking projects that seek to understand, envision, and shape the future of the Arctic. These "Arctic Futures" projects include:

Arctic Futures 2050
CAPS Director Amy Lovecraft presents posters at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference in 2019
CAPS Director Amy Lovecraft presents posters at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference in 2019

SEARCH (Study of Environmental Arctic Change) is leading the three-pronged Arctic Futures 2050 effort, comprised of three contributions to informing Arctic policy with science. CAPS has participated in these in mutiple ways:

  • Director Amy Lauren Lovecraft sits on the Science Steering Committee of SEARCH, and the SEARCH Executive Director is CAPS Affiliate Dr. Brendan Kelly.
  • Dr. Lovecraft co-led the Arctic Futures Scenario Workshop in Seattle in April 2018. A narrative report on the workshop, written by Dr. Lovecraft, and a full technical report can be downloaded here:

Arctic Futures Scenarios Narrative Report (PDF - 613 KB) Citation: Lovecraft, A. L. 2019. Arctic Futures 2050: Scenarios Narratives. Report on the SEARCH Scenarios Project. Study of Environmental Arctic Change

 Arctic Futures Scenarios Technical Report (PDF - 5 MB) Citation: denamics. 2018. SEARCH Scenarios Project Arctic Futures 2050: Technical Documentation. SEARCH.

  • Dr. Lovecraft and Research Associate Dustin Elsberry represented the Center for Arctic Policy Studies at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference in Washington, DC, in Sept 2019, and presented a series of posters illustrating the outcomes of the 2018 Arctic Futures Scenario Workshop.

Participatory Scenario Methods and Outcomes: SEARCH Workshop April 2018

Amy Lauren Lovecraft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Marc Müller-Stoffels, denamics GmbH, Kelsey Aho, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Douglas Cost, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Rigorous, informed speculation about the future of the Arctic can help scientists and decision-makers prepare today to take action for future research, policies, and investments. These seven posters provide the outcome of the shared knowledge and work by over 30 participants at the Arctic Futures 2050 Scenarios Project workshop initiated by the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) in April 2018. This group participated in a scenarios process using the Robustness Analysis Method to answer the question "What information is needed to successfully respond to changes in Arctic environments by 2050?" Specifically, there is a poster that explains the method, a poster explaining the workshop, and five others that represent plausible future worlds created using the key drivers and future projections identified by the experts at the workshop.

Scenarios Development with Alaska's Arctic Indigenous Youth
Recent work by CAPS affiliate Dr. Douglas Cost and CAPS Director Amy Lauren Lovecraft has been published in a 2020 Polar Geography article "Scenarios development with Alaska’s Arctic Indigenous youth: perceptions of healthy sustainable futures in the Northwest Arctic Borough."
From the abstract:

"How do arctic youth perceive the resilience of their communities?... Arctic Futures Makers (AFM) was a scenarios workshop of 22 Alaska Indigenous high school students convened over two days in February 2016 on the resilience of the Northwest Arctic Borough’s communities in light of climate and development changes. The scope of the scenarios workshop focused on defining factors the students felt were key to the future of healthy and sustainable communities.... Three findings are significant to explain how these youth think about themselves and their region’s future: (1) high school students’ results are similar to those of adults in similar workshops but with important differences related to what makes a community ‘livable’ (2) students were initially reticent to imagine multiple possible futures (3) students’ perceptions of their own communities’ resilience changed after the workshop experience."

Download the full article PDF here: Cost and Lovecraft_2020_Scenarios Development with Alaska's Arctic Indigenous Youth

SALIENSEAS Scenarios Workshop - Maritime Futures 2035: the Arctic Region

Doug Cost facilitates scenarios workshopUAF Assistant Professor Doug Cost facilitated this scenarios workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 2018. CAPS supported the travel and participation of Dr. Cost as a CAPS Affiliate. Dr. Berill Blair, also a CAPS Affiliate and UAF PhD alumna, and currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Environmental Policy Group of the University of Wageningen and Research, served as Workshop Lead. More information about the Scenarios Workshop can be found here, including a downloadable pdf of the workshop's final report. Both Cost and Blair worked together previously on the Northern Alaska Scenarios Project.

AMAP Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council completed a program that investigated three international regions of the Arctic to compare how people and institutions were adapting to the rapid pace of change in the North. You can read about the Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic here. Drs. Lovecraft and Benjamin Preston were lead authors of a chapter on "Scenarios thinking for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Region" for the report Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic: Perspectives from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Region; the chapter can be downloaded here: Lovecraft & Preston (2017) Ch 8 Scenarios thinking.

Northern Alaska Scenarios Project

NASP workshopThe Northern Alaska Scenarios Project (NASP) was a National Science Foundation funded project in partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. NASP engaged representatives from sectors across the Northwest Arctic Borough and the North Slope Borough in scenarios development related to key aspects of healthy communities: “peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity”.  CAPS Director Dr. Amy Lovecraft served as Principle Investigator on this project, which focused on how to achieve healthy sustainable Arctic Alaskan communities by the year 2040.

*March 2020 update*  A new paper, "Risks Without Borders: A Cultural Consensus Model of Risks to Sustainability in Rapidly Changing Social–Ecological Systems," by Dr. Berill Blair and CAPS Director Amy Lauren Lovecraft appears in the open-access journal Sustainability as part of a Special Issue on Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability. The paper builds on research undertaken as part of NASP, and explores consensus about risks and uncertainties in Arctic boroughs grappling with rapid social–ecological transformations in northern Alaska.

 Oil and Gas Infrastructure and Commercial Transportation in Arctic Alaska

Synthesis Report COverThis 2014 synthesis report, authored by Dr. Kevin Hillmer-Pegram in tandem with his doctoral degree at the University of Alaska Fairpanks, was produced as part of the North by 2020 Forum with support provided by Ocean Conservancy and The Pew Charitable Trusts. This report is intended as a factual and unbiased reference for the wide range of stakeholders interested in such industrial activities. The purpose of this report is to synthesize information about existing, planned, and proposed infrastructure and operations that support oil and gas exploration and production and commercial transportation over the whole of Arctic Alaska, compiling a region-wide vision of these industrial activities that has not previously existed.  Taken as a whole, the report provides readers with an overview of the history, current conditions, and plausible future extent of industrial infrastructure in Arctic Alaska. The report builds on the National Research Council’s 2003 study entitled Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska’s North Slope by filling the need for regional-level studies that present information about oil and gas development and other types of industrial activities in a useable manner for a wide audience of stakeholders and in support of an integrated approach to planning and management.The information in this report was used as background material for oil and gas and commercial transportation issues in two subsequent scenario building efforts in Arctic Alaska.

North by 2020

North by 2020 book coverIn 2007, as part of the International Polar Year 2007-2009, Dr. Lovecraft, along with Dr. Hajo Eicken, served on the Executive Committee of the North by 2020 initiative to implement a forum for local and global perspectives on the North at the Univiersity of Alaska. The forum supported a number of projects, conversations, and events, with the goal of "explor[ing] discuss[ing], plan[ning] and prepar[ing for] opportunities for sustainable development in a North experiencing rapid facilitating research and education across disciplinary boundaries to address the real world concerns surrounding Northern futures while at the same time engaging public, private, and government stakeholders."

Dr. Lovecraft, along with IARC Director Dr. Hajo Eicken, co-edited the transdisciplinary volume North by 2020: Perspectives on Alaska’s Changing Social-Ecological Systems (University of Chicago Press, 2011, which originated in a series of workshops held at the Alaska Forum of the Fourth International Polar Year.