Assessing Arctic Climate Change

AMAPs first assessment in 1997/98 included chapters on Arctic climate change and stratospheric ozone and UV-radiation, and focussed on examining the coverage of Arctic climate change in the IPCC's  second assessment of global climate change (1996) and the WMO's 1994 assessment of ozone depletion. The assessment concluded that Arctic climate change was not adequately addressed in the IPCC assessments and work was therefore initiated by AMAP to provide input to the IPCC's third assessment in 2001.

The result was the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) that was produced by AMAP in collaboration with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Arctic Councils working group on Conservations of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF). The ACIA was landmark in that it provided the first comprehensive assessment of climate change in the Arctic and its impacts on human societies – both within the Arctic and beyond. ACIA raised the profile of Arctic climate change issues globally and played an important role in establishing the polar regions (especially the Arctic) as a separate focus for work under the IPCC.

In 2002 AMAP produced assessments the impacts of climate change on contaminant pathways, and in 2009 an assessment of the Arctic carbon cycle.

A major AMAP activity to follow-up on ACIA was the Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) assessment that was performed between 2008 and 2011, in collaboration with WMO and IASC, and delivered to the Arctic Council in 2011. This assessment of changes in the Arctic cryosphere included four main components assessing Arctic Sea ice, the Greenland Ice Sheet, Snow and Permafrost, and Arctic Hydrology and again addressed the implications of these changes for ecosystems and people. The results of the preliminary assessment of the Greenland Ice Sheet component were presented at the UNFCCC COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.

AMAP has four expert groups concerned with Climate change issues, its (overarching) climate expert group (CEG), two expert groups dealing with short-lived climate forcers (one on black-carbon and ozone, the second on methane), and an expert group on arctic ocean acidification. The AMAP CEG also provides input to the Arctic Report Card produced annually by NOAA.

AMAP assessments of the impacts of short-lived climate forcers, and a detailed follow up on impacts of black carbon on Arctic climate delivered to the AC in 2011 and 2013 were translated into initiatives under the Arctic Council and others (UNEP, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, etc.) to reduce black carbon emissions. This work has been extended to consider ozone and methane and AMAP expert groups on these subjects are providing input to the New Arctic Council Task Force for action on black carbon and methane.

In 2013 AMAP delivered its first assessment of Arctic ocean acidification to the Arctic Council.

AMAPs workplan for the period to 2017 includes work in support of the Arctic Council’s project on Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic. AMAP is responsible for work to improve predictive capability through work on scenarios and modelling on climate and other drivers of Arctic change, with plans to implement this through integrated assessment activities in three regions (the Barents region, the Baffin/Davis Strait region and the Bering/Chukchi/Beaufort region).

AMAPs work on climate issues has been presented at UNFCCC COP meetings in 2009 (Copenhagen), 2010 (Cancun), 2011 (Durban) and 2012 (Doha) and provided the basis for statements made by the Arctic Council Chairmanship at the Durban and Doha meetings.