ID:40 Arctic Infrastructure resilience and climate adaptation

22 February 2023 | 16:00 - 18:00 (GMT+1)

Open Session - HYBRID


Room: Hörsaal 1


Session Conveners: Masoud Naseri (UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway); Amir Garmabaki (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)


Session Description

The quality of our modern societies and advanced economies depends on infrastructure quality as a defining element. Over recent decades, we have realised and experienced the consequence of infrastructure failures due to natural catastrophes, accidents, or malicious acts, which can cascade through interdependent infrastructures and thus pose national and continental risks. Furthermore, the adverse effects of climate change such as more frequent high-impact severe weather events put the infrastructure systems under much higher risks. Such risks are of crucial concern in the Arctic, where it is warming at twice the rate of the global average and the adverse impacts of climate change such as coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, changes in precipitation types and flooding patterns, are felt by the local and indigenous communities more acutely.

The crucial role of infrastructure network in underpinning economic activities, resource consumption, production processes and environmental pollution (for instance, energy and transport systems cause almost half of global carbon emissions) makes infrastructure networks such as transport, energy, water, waste, ICT, etc., vital elements of for transitioning towards more resilient and sustainable societies.

To this aim, as highlighted in the UN’s Sendai Framework for disaster risk management 2015-2030, research and engineering works are needed to plan, develop, and operate resilient infrastructures, and analyse and manage the risks associated with both slow onset as well as acute hazards and natural emergencies, while accounting for the changing climate. However, uncertainties associated with extreme weather events and climate hazards, intensity of exposure of critical infrastructures, efficiency of response and recovery measures, and interdependencies and complexities of infrastructure networks makes such risk and resilience management efforts very challenging and demanding.

The aim of this Special Session is to provide an opportunity for the researchers, end-users, and policymakers to share and exchange their knowledge and experience on risk and resilience assessment and management of Arctic critical infrastructures under the impact of climate change. Some suggested related topics are listed as in the following:

  • Modelling of natural hazards as stressors for Arctic infrastructure networks
  • Spatial and temporal modelling and analysis of the Arctic climate and conditions as well as their associated uncertainties
  • Climate adaptation strategies and resilient societies
  • Risk and susceptibility maps of natural hazards and severe climate events
  • Risk and resilience modelling and assessment of interdependent infrastructure networks
  • Cascading failures and multiple threats
  • Climate change and its impact on resilience of Arctic infrastructure networks



  • unfold_more16:00 – 16:15: Analysis of climate change impact on rail infrastructure for adaptation planning: A Swedish railway infrastructure use-case

    Amir Garmabaki1; Masoud Naseri2; Javad Barabady2
    1Luleå University of Technology; 2UiT - The Arctic University of Norway


    Climate change poses various types of challenges for operation and maintenance of rail infrastructure asset. The impact of climate change and implementation of associated measures depend on geographical locations, demography, etc. and therefore a climate change impact analysis is required and should be performed at local and regional level infrastructure. In this study, the most common climatic impact on railway infrastructure assets including rail, switches, crossing, and bridge of Swedish railway infrastructure in urban areas has been considered. The data have been collected through conducting a nationwide questionnaire survey on the Swedish Railway infrastructure owners, railway maintenance entrepreneurs, and municipalities. The impact analysis help infrastructure managers and decision makers identify and prioritize climate risks and develop appropriate climate adaptation measures and actions in order to cope with future climate change effects.

  • unfold_more16:15 – 16:30: Towards a better management of cultural heritage in changing Polar regions: Introducing the project PCCH-Arctic

    Anatoly Sinitsyn1; Alexandra Meyer2; Juditha Aga3; Julia Lutz4; Oskar Landgren4
    1SINTEF; 2University of Vienna; 3University of Oslo; 4Norwegian Meteorological Institute


    Cultural heritage constitutes an irreplaceable source of historical information, important markers of identity, and attractions to both locals and tourists in the Arctic. On Svalbard, the rapidly changing climate challenges the conservation of technical-industrial cultural heritage (historical infarstructure): thawing permafrost, coastal eosion, and warmer and wetter weather affect the built environment on the archipelago, including protected structures. Preserving Svalbard's cultural heritage thus requires adaptation strategies. Technical solutions may, however, collide with cultural heritage management and policies, if they are considered to interfere with the authenticity of the objects. The project PCCH Arctic - Polar Climate and Cultural Heritage - addresses these challenges and the related dilemmas through a participatory and multidisciplinary approach, which will be outlined and discussed in the presentation. Through close collaboration with owners of cultural heritage on Svalbard, we consider specific local challenges with the aim to produce applicable outputs. While downscaled climate projections and permafrost modelling provide the knowledge base for assessing future climate-induced impacts on permafrost and on cultural heritage, the engineering sciences examine physical impacts on structures and possible technical solutions. The social science work package contextualizes these challenges and solutions and inquires into the diverse values connected to cultural heritage and different management and adaptation approaches. The aim is to create a guideline for the sustainable safeguarding of technical-industrial cultural heritage in a changing Arctic and to provide input to management plans.

  • unfold_more16:30 – 16:45: Permafrost Degradation Comes at Substantial Cost to the Arctic States

    Dmitry Streletskiy1; Katherine Landers1; Nikolay Shiklomanov1; Jean-Pierre Lanckman2
    1George Washington University; 2Grail


    The Arctic has experienced drastic climatic changes, leading to an unprecedented transformation of its natural landscape. Large terrestrial areas underlain by permafrost experience increases in temperature, lowering of the permafrost table, and melting of ground ice following changing climatic conditions. These changes are often amplified in areas of human and economic activities, resulting in permafrost-related hazards that affect the region’s population and infrastructure. Using a subset of CMIP6 models as forcing to a permafrost-geotechnical model, we estimated changes in permafrost temperature and active layer thickness to predict associated hazards such as thaw subsidence and bearing capacity loss by the mid-21st century under SSP245 and SSP585 scenarios. Socio-economic and infrastructure data were then used to evaluate the economic costs associated with infrastructure damage for each country. Under the SSP585 scenario, 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings will be affected, with an estimated cost of 276 billion USD, about 100 billion USD higher than SSP245. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from 115 to 169 billion USD depending on the scenario. Such significant costs warrant the reevaluation of best practices of planning and construction on permafrost, development of permafrost monitoring networks and early warning systems, expansion of open data exchanges, and incorporation of participatory inventory and monitoring networks.

  • unfold_more16:45 – 17:00: Navigating the New Arctic: Toward a new era of infrastructure and climate change cumulative impact assessment

    D.A. (Skip) Walker1; Annett Bartsch2; Vladimir Romanovsky1; Dmitry Nicolsky1; Helena Bergstedt2; Amy Breen1; Benjamin Jones1; Mikhail Kanevskiy1; Jana Peirce1; Yuri Shur1; Martha Raynolds1; Ronald Daanen3; Torre Jorgenson4; Anja Kade1; Chandi Witharana5; Thomas Schneider von Deimling6; Elias Manos5
    1University of Alaska Fairbanks; 2b.geos GmbH; 3Alaska Department of Natural Resources; 4Alaska Ecoscience; 5University of Connecticut; 6Alfred Wegener Institute


    Environmental impact assessments for new Arctic oilfields do not adequately address the potential cumulative effects of infrastructure- and climate-induced changes to Arctic landscapes, especially in areas with ice-rich permafrost (IRP). Here, we present a 70-year historical case study of cumulative impacts in the Prudhoe Bay Oilfield (PBO), Alaska. We discuss a new NSF Navigating the New Arctic project that is using integrated ground-based studies, advanced remote-sensing tools, and improved modeling approaches to examine climate- and infrastructure-related changes; show some promising new remote-sensing and modeling tools; and point toward improved capability to predict future changes. The study builds on a geo-ecological baseline developed in the 1970s, shortly after discovery of the PBO. Up until recently, analysis of cumulative impacts depended on aerial photographs and photo-interpretation; the spatial resolution of available satellite-based remote-sensing data was insufficient to discern the details of periglacial landforms, roads, pipelines, or changes to land surfaces adjacent to infrastructure. The PBO datasets are now being used in combination with massive amount of very-high-resolution satellite imagery, to train new pattern-recognition tools and improve modeling approaches that bridge the gaps between engineering, landscape, regional and circumpolar scales. Early results from these new tools show promise to greatly improve our ability to determine the sensitivity of IRP landscapes to change, engineer new infrastructure to minimize impact, and monitor future changes.

  • unfold_more17:00 – 17:15: Informal roads and their influence on boreal wildfires: a case study of two Indigenous Evenki villages in southeastern Siberia

    Sara Fatimah
    The George Washington University


    Boreal forest landscapes in Siberia are experiencing accelerated environmental degradation as a result of logging, industrial expansion, and wildfires, often mediated by the expanding informal road network. Boreal forest fires have increased in frequency and intensity and there is evidence that informal roads, which include industrial access roads, logging roads, trails, and paths can promote wildfire ignition. This research explores the interactions between wildfires and informal road networks surrounding the Indigenous Evenki villages of Vershina Khandy and Tokma in southeastern Siberia. Both communities are surrounded by sensitive taiga forests underlain by discontinuous permafrost and utilize these forests for subsistence-based land-use practices such as hunting, fishing, and foraging. A comprehensive understanding of interactions between wildfires and road networks in boreal forests requires interdisciplinary research and collaboration with local and Indigenous communities, like the Evenki. Using interview analyses, remote sensing, and spatial statistics, this study examines 20 years of wildfire ignition, spread, and cessation, in an attempt to discern natural and anthropogenic causes. Results from this research will contribute to the overall understanding of boreal forest fire regimes, and can provide new insights into the socio-ecological structures at play in this region and their sensitivities to climate and industry providing pivotal information for boreal wildfire management and fire risk reduction.

  • unfold_more17:15 – 17:30: Capital investments for the Norwegian Red King Crab: A Tale of Ecological and Community Resilience

    Melina Kourantidou; Brooks Kaiser
    University of Southern Denmark


    The importance of onshore infrastructure for supporting coastal fisheries has long been acknowledged; its role in remote and geographically challenged fishing communities in the Nordic Arctic has visibly impacted community structure and development. This paper explores the Red King Crab (RKC) fishery in Norway and the ways in which its management has been changing the socioeconomic landscape in Northern Finnmark since the beginning of commercial exploitation in the early 2000’s. The RKC in the Barents Sea is an intentionally introduced species that is viewed both as a nuisance and as a valuable economic resource. This induces ambivalent preferences among local stakeholders and decision-makers in Norway. Low harvesting costs, uncertain ecosystem losses and ongoing infrastructure investment in onshore landing facilities all shape stakeholders' myopic interests in Norway in favor of a long-term management of the fishery. Simultaneously the political willingness to support local coastal communities and livelihoods in northern Norway provides significant impetus for maintaining a long-term stock, particularly in Eastern Finnmark. The ongoing infrastructure investments favor regional stakeholders over more diffuse and less clearly identified interests in the ecosystem changes induced by the invasive crab. With this paper, we highlight the path dependencies created by infrastructure development and seek to identify trade-offs inherent in the management of the invasion for ecological and community resilience.

  • unfold_moreShort poster introductions