A survey of interventions to actively conserve the frozen North

Albert Wouter van Wijngaarden, John C. Moore, Bjorn Alfthan, Tiina Kurvits, Lars Kullerud

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Abstract

The frozen elements of the high North are thawing as the region warms much faster than the global mean. The dangers of sea level rise due to melting glacier ice, increased concentrations of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost, and alterations in the key high latitude physical systems spurred many authors, and more recently international agencies and supra-state actors, to investigate “emergency measures” that might help conserve the frozen North. However, the efficacy and feasibility of many of these ideas remains highly uncertain, and some might come with significant risks, or could be even outright dangerous to the ecosystems and people of the North. To date, no review has evaluated all suggested schemes. The objectives of this first phase literature survey (which can be found in a separate compendium (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10602506), are to consider all proposed interventions in a common evaluation space, and identify knowledge gaps in active conservation proposals. We found 61 interventions with a high latitude focus, across atmosphere, land, oceans, ice and industry domains. We grade them on a simple three-point evaluation system across 12 different categories. From this initial review we can identify which ideas scored low marks on most categories and are therefore likely not worthwhile pursuing; some groups of interventions, like traditional land-based mitigation efforts, score relatively highly while ocean-based and sea ice measures, score lower and have higher uncertainties overall. This review will provide the basis for a further in-depth expert assessment that will form phase two of the project over the next few years sponsored by University of the Arctic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number58
Number of pages23
JournalClimatic Change
Volume177
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2024
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Nature-based approaches
  • climate engineering
  • geoengineering
  • climate action
  • cryosphere

Field of science

  • Environmental engineering

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