Understanding Climate-Driven Phenological Change: Observations, Adaptations, and Cultural Implications in Northeastern Siberia and Labrador/Nunatsiavut



This project is an interdisciplinary effort to systematically document, model, and interpret key linkages between physical, biological and human systems in the context of changing seasonality (phenology) due to global and local climate change. In line with the CSAS solicitation, the primary research objective of PHENARC is to understand the linkages between Arctic system climate change, altered phenological processes, and adaptations and responses of human societies to these changes to decipher implications for the future. The project’s overarching research questions are: i) What are the key seasonal events that form an integral part of the ecosystems in PHENARC’s two main study areas of northeastern Siberia and Labrador?; ii) How are these seasonal events changing, and what specific phenological shifts are occurring in these study areas?; iii) What are the drivers of these seasonal events, and how do they ripple through/affect the entire system?; iv) How are phenological changes and their resulting ecosystem impacts affecting the timing of people’s subsistence and other activities?; v) How are these societal changes in turn affecting the larger cultural system?

In order to answer such questions, PHENARC will employ qualitative and quantitative methods of field study, retrospective investigations, and modeling/synthesis techniques. Data sources will include: systematic meteorological observations; climate proxy data; documentary historical records; oral history; and data drawn from interviews with contemporary respondents in the project’s two study areas. PHENARC builds upon the solid foundation of Arctic systems data already established by the project PIs in the Arctic/Subarctic regions of northeastern Siberia and Labrador/Nunatsiavut, two arctic regions not extensively studied before, that provide a variety of terrains, and ecosystem and human communities for a robust comparative study. Additionally, the communities differ in cultural and ethnic mix.

PHENARC represents a novel approach to advancing knowledge of key linkages between climate and human systems by integrating Arctic climate data with local knowledge drawn from rural native communities in two distinct arctic regions. PHENARC involves the targeted communities, regional and national specialists, and a team of international collaborators and affiliates. By investigating patterns of seasonality in two disparate arctic regions that are each home to a dynamic contrast of mixed and native settlements, and with a resulting potential transfer of knowledge across scales and international borders, PHENARC’s contribution to global knowledge promises to be considerable with high potential for disseminating widely new knowledge regarding changing seasonality in Arctic climate and human systems. Project is includes a close collaboration with local community residents and the results will be disseminated widely on local, regional, and circumpolar levels.


Principal Investigator


Susan Crate

George Mason University

Crate - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Principal Investigator


Astrid Ogilvie

University of Colorado Boulder

Ogilvie - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Journal Publications

Crate, S.A. (2011), "Climate and Culture: Anthropology in the Era of Contemporary Climate Change", Annual Review of Anthropology, doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104925.

Crate, S.A. (2011), "A Political Ecology of Water in Mind: Attributing Perceptions in the Era of Global Climate Change", Weather, Climate and Society, Vol 3.

Crate, S.A., "We are going Underwater: Siberian Villagers Show the World What Global Climate Change Means", Natural History, May 2011.

Crate, S.A. (2011) "Integrating Local and Scientific Knowledge about the Regional Effects of Global Climate Change", Course Reader eBooks, Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Crate, S.A. (2011) "Climate and Cosmology: Exploring Sakha Belief and the Local Effects of Unprecedented Change in North-Eastern Siberia, Russia" in Gerten, Dieter, ed. Religion in Environmental and Climate Change: Suffering, Values, Lifestyles, London: Continuum Books: 175-199.

Demarée, G.R., A.E.J. Ogilvie and Y. Csonka (2010), "The Inuit, the Moravian Brethren and Connections with French-speaking Switzerland", Journal of the North Atlantic 3: 24-30.

Papers Submitted

Crate, S.A., "Water, Water Everywhere: Perceptions of Chaotic Water Regimes in NE Siberia" in Barbara Rose Johnston, et al. (eds.) Water, Cultural Diversity & Environmental Change: Challenges for a Sustainable Future, UNESCO International Hydrological Programme and Springer Publishing (Paris and Amsterdam) (2011).

Demarée, G.R., and A.E.J. Ogilvie, "Climate-related information in Labrador/Nunatsiavut: evidence from Moravian missionary journals", Bulletin des séances ARSOM-KAOW (Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, Belgium) (2011).

Demarée, G.R., A.E.J. Ogilvie and Y. Csonka, "Connections between the Inuit Peoples of Labrador/Nunatsiavut, the Moravian Brethren, and French-Speaking Switzerland", in "Histories from the North: Environments, Movements, and Narratives: Proceedings of the BOREAS Conference", John P. Ziker and Florian Stammler, eds., (2011).

Conference Abstracts

Crate, S.A., "Viliui Sakha Perspectives on Changing Seasonality in Northeast Siberia, Russia", The Seventh International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences beyond the International Polar Year, Akureyri, Iceland (2011).

Crate, S.A., "Cows, Kin, and Climate Change: Bolstering Resilience Through Local and Scientific Knowledge Exchanges in Northeast Siberia", Third Annual ACMS Research Conference, Ulan Bator, Mongolia (2011).

Crate, S.A., "Understanding Risk Management and Sustainable Development in Sakha: Local Investigations using ‘Climate Ethnography’", 2nd HK International Conference: Reflections on Russian “Center-Periphery” Relationships: For Sustainable Resource Development in East Siberia and the Russian Far East, Institute of Russia-CIS Studies, Korea University, Seoul, Korea (2011).

Crate, S.A., "What "Lost" Cultures can Contribute to the Management of Our Planet", Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC (2011).

Crate, S.A., "WATER IN MIND: Exploring Narratives, Perceptions and Responses to Unprecedented Climate Change for Sakha of northeastern Siberia, Russia", Polarworlds International Conference, Paris, France (2011).

Demarée, G.R., A.E.J. Ogilvie and H. Rollmann, "From London to Labrador, via Stromness: Crossing the Atlantic with the Moravian missionaries", The Inaugural St. Magnus Conference, Orkney, Scotland (2011).

Ogilvie, A.E.J., "Comparing Changing Patterns of Seasonality in Sea-Ice Records from the Labrador/Nunatsiavut and Iceland Sectors", The Seventh International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences beyond the International Polar Year, Akureyri, Iceland (2011).

Ogilvie, A.E.J., "Sea Ice as Enemy and Friend: The case of Iceland and Labrador", Our Ice Dependent World: The 6th Open Assembly of the Northern Research Forum, Hverargerði, Iceland (2011).

Crate, S.A., "Investigating Cultural Implications and Local Knowledge of Global Climate Change in Northeast Siberia, Russia", STIA and the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, Georgetown University, Washington DC (2010).

Crate, S.A., "Water in Mind: Investigating the Cultural Implications of Climate Change in Siberia", Bowdoin College, Maine; University of New England, Maine (2010).

Crate, S.A., "Religion and Climate Change, Potsdam, Germany January 2 Water in Mind: Exploring Narratives, Perceptions and Responses to Unprecedented Climate change in NE Siberia", Sustainability Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Newfoundland, CA (2010).

Demarée. G.R. and A.E.J. Ogilvie, "Scientific Results of Moravian Missionary Activity in Labrador", Royal Belgian Academy of Overseas Sciences, Brussels, Belgium (2010).

Ogilvie, A.E.J., G.R. Demarée, W. Hill B. Patterson, J.C. Rogers, "Human Dimensions of Changing Seasonality in the Arctic: A Focus on Labrador/Nunatsiavut", International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference, Oslo, Norway (2010).

Crate, S.A. and A.E.J. Ogilvie, "Understanding Climate-Driven Phenological Change - Observations, Adaptations and Cultural Implications in Northeastern Siberia and Labrador/Nunatsiavut (PHENARC)", Meeting of Climate Researchers in Labrador/Nunatsiavut, Ottawa, Canada (2010).


Crate, S.A. and M. Nuttall, eds. (2009), Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions, (ed) Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.


1 September 2009 to 31 August 2013