2003 Annual Meeting and Arctic Forum | Arctic Forum Focus
Arctic Forum 2003
28-29 April 2003
Conveners: Igor Krupnik and F. Stuart Chapin
Responding to Global Change:
Resilience and Vulnerability in the Arctic Systems
The Arctic is changing rapidly and in many complex ways, including changes in physical and bio-chemical environment, ecological processes in ecosystems, and cultural and economic values that shape the lives of arctic residents. Many of these processes are specifically Arctic manifestations of broader synchronous changes that are occurring globally, either as part of long-term cycles or as directional transformations in the global environment. The changes also involve restructuring of many critical interactions among components of the Arctic System, including the atmosphere, oceans, lands, and their human inhabitants. These interactions produce feedbacks that can either amplify or buffer the global drivers of change; they also have specific ‘arctic dimensions,’ both in terms of the components and of the speed of the processes involved.
The scholarly examination and the net result of these interactions are critically important to arctic residents and to the development of our common understanding of global change. Some of the current processes and components of the arctic system are resilient to change and, thus, may be predictable, whereas other are highly vulnerable to rapid shifts, so past experience provides little guidance for the future. If, as we assume, the Arctic is the world’s ‘early warning’ system, we must find clues to these specific arctic responses in adaptation to stresses and in minimizing risk of abrupt and irreversible shifts that often lead to system destruction.
This is why the Arctic Forum of 2003 addresses the issues of resilience and vulnerability in the arctic system(s) – physical, biological, ocean, terrestrial, human, and cultural alike. Many in the Arctic research community believe that an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of resilience/vulnerability to the ongoing rapid change represents the true 'cutting edge' of today's polar science. Various forms of these resilience/vulnerability responses are amply documented by current scholarly research and in daily observations by arctic residents. For the Arctic Forum 2003, we expect to commission presentations from scholars in various fields related to recent research projects as well as from representatives of the management agencies, arctic Native residents, and representatives from business and government.