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MUST Publications

Garbis, Zoe and McCarthy, Erin and Orttung, Robert W. and Poelzer, Gregory and Shaiman, Melissa and Tafrate, Jacob "Governing the green economy in the Arctic" Climatic Change , v.176 , 2023 Citation Details

In Sweden’s Norrbotten County, a “green transition” driven by market demand and new normative structures is underway, creating a regional mega-project designed to put Sweden at the forefront of emerging green industries. These industries, such as carbon-neutral steel fabrication, battery production, and data center hosting, all require large amounts of energy, land, and minerals. This paper applies the regional environmental governance framework to Arctic data to examine which stakeholders have the capacity to impose their agenda on the Arctic environment and the points of conflict and collaboration during this period of accelerated growth. The paper tests the assumption that regional governance accommodates a plurality of interests. A case study examining Norrbotten County’s industrial mega-project centered around Luleå, Sweden, identifies a dominant coalition uniting government and industry that supports norms seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this region. However, the existing regional governance model does a poor job of integrating the local Indigenous Sámi preferences for land use. At the core of the difference between actors advancing the green economy and the local Sámi reindeer herders are divergent conceptions of nature and sustainability.

Streletskiy, Dmitry A and Clemens, Sonia and Lanckman, Jean-Pierre and Shiklomanov, Nikolay I "The costs of Arctic infrastructure damages due to permafrost degradation" Environmental Research Letters , v.18 , 2023 Citation Details

Climate change has adverse impacts on Arctic natural ecosystems and threatens northern communities by disrupting subsistence practices, limiting accessibility, and putting built infrastructure at risk. In this paper, we analyze spatial patterns of permafrost degradation and associated risks to built infrastructure due to loss of bearing capacity and thaw subsidence in permafrost regions of the Arctic. Using a subset of three Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 models under SSP245 and 585 scenarios we estimated changes in permafrost bearing capacity and ground subsidence between two reference decades: 2015–2024 and 2055–2064. Using publicly available infrastructure databases we identified roads, railways, airport runways, and buildings at risk of permafrost degradation and estimated country-specific costs associated with damage to infrastructure. The results show that under the SSP245 scenario 29% of roads, 23% of railroads, and 11% of buildings will be affected by permafrost degradation, costing $182 billion to the Arctic states by mid-century. Under the SSP585 scenario, 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings will be affected with estimated cost of $276 billion, with airport runways adding an additional $0.5 billion. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from $115 to $169 billion depending on the scenario. Limiting global greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to significantly decrease the costs of projected damages in Arctic countries, especially in Russia. The approach presented in this study underscores the substantial impacts of climate change on infrastructure and can assist to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in Arctic states.

Landers, Katherine and Streletskiy, Dmitry "(Un)frozen foundations: A study of permafrost construction practices in Russia, Alaska, and Canada" Ambio , 2023 Citation Details

The Arctic is rapidly warming posing a significant threat to underlying permafrost. Permafrost degradation has already resulted in extensive damage to the Arctic’s built infrastructure, putting communities and industries at risk. Projected climate warming will further reduce the capacity of permafrost to support infrastructure, thereby requiring a rethinking of construction and development of permafrost regions in the future. This paper focuses on three Arctic regions with a substantial presence of population and infrastructure on permafrost: USA (Alaska), Canada, and Russia. The three regions’ permafrost construction practices are examined in order to identify best practices and major gaps. We identify a lack of standardized, codified construction guidelines; an absence of permafrost-geotechnical monitoring in communities; barriers to integrating climate scenarios into future planning; limited data sharing; and low numbers of permafrost professionals as major constraints limiting the region’s resilience in the face of climate change. Refining building practices and standards, implementing operational permafrost monitoring systems, developing downscaled climate projections, and integrating local knowledge will minimize the impacts of permafrost degradation under rapidly warming climatic conditions.

Additional MUST Project Publications are in Progress and will be published soon. 

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