Workshops & Meetings

Towards Sustainable Infrastructure: Environmental, Technological, and Societal Impacts of Development in the Arctic

ASSW 2023 in Vienna & Online | 20 February, 14:00-18:00 CEST (Lunch & Poster Session 12:30)

Poster Session

Artificial light at night discloses large regional differences in industrial activity across the Arctic

Cengiz Akandil, Elena Plekhanova, Nils Rietze, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub | University of Zurich, Switzerland

View Poster | As the warming climate facilitates industrial development in the Arctic, direct anthropogenic impacts of industrial development on the Arctic ecosystem might exacerbate the effects of climate change. Until now the analysis of the industrial human activity and infrastructure development in the Arctic was generally local such as at the Prudhoe Bay oil fields or Bovanenkovo oil fields. Some recent studies also showed the current state of the infrastructure development in the Pan Arctic. However, there is no study on past activity and how the industrial development and urbanization changed throughout, years, allowing us to determine the rate of development at pan-Arctic scale and to quantify the total area that is affected by industrial human activity through time, including industrial areas that that have been abandoned. We close this this gap by analyzing industrial human activity and urbanization from 1992 to 2013 using Artificial Lights at Night (ALAN), because remotely sensed artificial lights deliver the signature of human activity.

Recent industrial development across the Arctic as visible from space

Annett Bartsch1,2, Georg Pointner1,2, Ingmar Nitze3, Aleksandra Efimova1,2, Guido Grosse3, Peter Schweitzer4,2

View Poster | The SACHI (Sentinel-1/2 derived Arctic Coastal Human Impact) dataset has been primarily developed as part of the HORIZON 2020 project Nunataryuk. It covers a 100-km buffer from the Arctic Coast (land area), for areas with permafrost near the coast. It is based on Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data from 2016-2020 using the algorithms described in Bartsch et al. (2020). It is a supplement to Bartsch et al. (2021). SACHI includes polygons of all identified objects with infrastructure/impact classes and auxiliary information: permafrost status and trends; nightlight radiance; vegetation zone; Normalized Difference Vegetation Index trends; settlement names (closest known, max 40 km distance incl. land use/industry type). SACHI class values include: 1=linear transport infrastructure; 2=buildings (and other constructions such as bridges); and 3=other impacted area (includes gravel pads, mining sites).

  1. b.geos, Korneuburg, Austria
  2. Austrian Polar Research Institute, Austria
  3. Permafrost Research Section, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  4. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria

Understanding the Changing Natural-Built Landscape in an Arctic Community: An Integrated Sensor Network in Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Magnus de Witt | Department of Engineering, Reykjavik University, Iceland

View Poster | The focuses on which energy resources are available in the Arctic and how the various resources can be har-vested with different mature energy technology options for remote Arctic communities. Mature energy generation technology means that the operation under harsh and cold climatical conditions is well proven. Further-more, the current energy situation among remote Arctic communities will be mapped out, with an analysis of which energy sources are used, the share of the different sources, and the energy demand of remote communities. After explaining the different energy generation options and main drivers for using renewable energy in remote Arctic communities, three case studies have been conducted. The case studies examine the viability of a potential energy transition for Arctic communities. The case studies also share some insights from field visits in remote communities on generating electricity with renewables and potential energy saving potentials. The last part elaborates on different integration strategies for renewable energy options. The focus lies on how to finance the energy transition in remote Arctic communities, which can help to structure the energy transition process financially. The dissertation finishes with an overall conclusion on the importance of renewable energy for Arctic communities. The research shows that renewable energy can be vital for remote communities to be-come more energy independent and lower the energy cost burden.

ICARP IV International Conference on Arctic Research Planning: A Multi-year Process (2022–2026) for Diverse, Pan-Arctic Input & Engagement

Matthew Druckenmiller | University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA

View Poster | The International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP) is a decadal Arctic research planning process organized by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) every 10 years since 1995. It engages Arctic researchers, Indigenous Peoples, residents, policy makers, residents and stakeholders from around the world in a discussion of the state of Arctic science and the place the Arctic occupies in global affairs and systems. ICARP IV is underway. It will be a muIti-year process to consider the most urgent knowledge gaps and Arctic research priorities and needs for the next decade, and to explore collaborative avenues to address these research priorities. Individuals, groups, networks, institutions, and organizations are encouraged to organize projects and events as part of ICARP IV and to seek endorsement of their activity from the ICARP IV International Steering Committee. Endorsed contributions and their outcomes will inform ICARP IV Research Priority Teams and contribute to final ICARP IV outcomes and implementation plans.

Medium-scale Cultivation of Microalgae in Svalbard

Jana Kvíderová1,2,3, Karel Šnokhous4, Jiří Liška1, Jaromír Lukavský1, Pavel Přibyl1, Lenka Procházková1, Josef Elster1,2

View Poster | The adaptation mechanisms of polar microalgae evolved to withstand the harsh polar environment characterized by low temperature, freeze-thaw cycles, desiccation, salinity, and high and variable photosynthetically active and ultraviolet radiation. Hence, polar microalgae developed ecological, physiological, and molecular defensive and adaptive strategies, which include the synthesis of a tremendous diversity of compounds originating from different metabolic pathways which protect them against the above-mentioned stresses. These pathways and metabolites could be prospective for biotechnological applications in low temperatures which could reduce the impacts of human activities on pristine polar environments and provide novel environment-friendly technologies for exploitation of the Polar Regions, namely the Arctic. Therefore, development of new types of photobioreactors to provide suitable and controlled conditions for microalgal growth and/or biologically active compound production is necessary, especially in medium (tens of liters) and large (hundreds of liters or even more) scales.

  1. Centre for Phycology, Institute of Botany, Czech Academy of Science, Třeboň, Czech Republic
  2. Centre for Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  3. Department of Biology and Geography, Faculty of Education, University of West Bohemia, Plzeń, Czech Republic
  4. Department of Process Engineering, Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic

High-Resolution Data from Integrated Micrometeorological and Geophysical Studies within an Arctic City: Preliminary Results from Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Matthew G. Jull1, Leena Cho2, Howard E. Epstein3, Thomas Douglas4

View Poster | The Arctic is a highly dynamic and extreme environment at the forefront of accelerated climate change. Situated on the coast of northern Alaska, 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the city of Utqiaġvik is built entirely on continuous permafrost with varying ice content. Since the 1970s, critical infrastructure, including water and electrical utilities, gravel roads, sanitation facilities, snow fences, schools, housing, and other government buildings were built. Most of these structures are on raised pilings driven into the underlying permafrost to mitigate heat transfer to the ground. Due to anthropogenic heat and a warming climate, Utqiaġvik faces challenges from destabilized permafrost, causing structural deformation of buildings and infrastructure. Although there are numerous studies on permafrost, less has been done on how urbanization and land use contribute to permafrost degradation. As part of a five-year study in partnership with the city of Utqiaġvik, this NSF-funded project has established an array of micrometeorological and ground based sensors at five study sites: a residential building, a public utilities complex, a new hospital, a gas line node, and a tundra control site. The data from the sensor arrays, combined with geophysical measurements of subsurface permafrost conditions will provide constraints for the development of resilient design strategies. Repeat LiDAR surveys identify changes in structures and land surface over time. Preliminary results from the micrometeorological sensor installation in the summer of 2022, combined with geophysical surveys from 2021-2022, indicate highly variable urban microclimate, surface and subsurface ground conditions. Localization of snow and surface water accumulation due to disturbed natural surface drainage and/or presence of human-made structures plays a key role in destabilizing the thermal regime of the underlying permafrost. However, reduced solar insolation beneath raised structures with adequate thermal isolation decreases the depth of the active layer and enhances permafrost stability. These competing effects reveal the complexity of interactions within an Arctic urban environment and the importance of integrated studies to monitor changing conditions for future development and adaptation strategies for Utqiaġvik.

  1. Department of Architecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  2. Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  3. Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  4. Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Wainwright, AK, USA

Understanding infrastructure risk due to permafrost thaw to inform decision-making in Point Lay, Alaska

Jana L. Peirce1, Benjamin M. Jones2, Billy G. Connor2, Mikhail Kanevskiy2, Yuri Shur2, Tracie Curry3, Peppi Bolz4

View Poster | The Native Village of Point Lay has been identified as the second most permafrost thaw-affected community in Alaska. Issues associated with thawing permafrost and terrain subsidence have dramatically increased during the last decade resulting in the failure of critical infrastructure and increasing risks to life, health and safety. In June 2022, seven researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Northern Social-Environmental Research traveled to Point Lay to observe, study, and discuss the effects of thawing permafrost on homes and other critical infrastructure in the village. During our research, we (1) studied permafrost properties and ground-ice conditions in three main terrain units (elevated areas, slopes, and drained-lake basins), (2) mapped the community with a drone to quantify the effect of thermokarst on village infrastructure, (3) conducted visual assessments on the effects of thawing permafrost on piling foundations, and (4) interviewed residents on their observations and experiences of permafrost thaw to better understand the impact of landscape changes as well as community concerns and information needs. The assessment of ground-ice content and comparative permafrost changes in built-up areas and an undeveloped area adjacent to the townsite showed that while climate warming has contributed to the permafrost thaw in Point Lay, adverse impacts of infrastructure have been a major driver of subsidence. To ensure the relevance of our research to local and regional decision-makers, we met with engineers, planners and policymakers before and after the visit to discuss research plans, exchange data, and share findings, including seven takeaways that can inform community-based decisions.

  1. Alaska Geobotany Center, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA
  2. Institute of Northern Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA
  3. Northern Social-Environmental Research, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  4. Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA

Arctic Coastal Communities Global Connectivity and Ethnography of Maritime Infrastructure

Olga Povoroznyuk | Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria

View Poster | The Arctic has been conceptualized as a global region experiencing unprecedented environmental change, resource extraction, indigenous movement, and growing connectivity with the Arctic Ocean often referred to as “the new Mediterranean.” Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine the region has been turning into an arena for new military competition and struggles for access to maritime resources and seaways. This new Arctic geopolitics might impact infrastructural development, connectivity and well-being of coastal communities.

Transport Infrastructures and Sustainable Northern Communities

Katrin Schmid | University of Vienna, Austria

View Poster | The ERC Advanced Grant Project “InfraNorth” examines how residents of the Arctic engage with transport infrastructures and their intended and unintended local consequences. We ask, “What is the role of transport infrastructures in sustaining arctic communities?” We take an anthropological and geographic approach to this topic to examine individual case studies in the European, Russian and North American Arctic. Our approach combines ethnographic research with mapping, future scenario workshops, quantitative population data, a survey, and archival research. My doctoral research examines the intersection of infrastructure planning and development, with the futures Nunavut residents imagine for their communities. Within this, I ask how these infrastructures can support access to country food in the territory. 

Assessing Micrometeorological and Geophysical Differences Related to the Built Environment in Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Mirella Shaban1, MacKenzie Nelson1, Leena Cho2, Chan Charoonsophonsak3, Georgina Davis3, Thomas Douglas4, Tobias Gerken5, Claire G Griffin1, Matthew G Jull1, Luis Felipe Rosado Murillo6, Lars Nelson7, Caitlin D Wylie8, Howard E. Epstein1

View Poster | The effects of permafrost thaw are increasingly felt throughout Arctic communities, due to changes in regional climates, with impacts on homes, businesses, and livelihoods. Understanding and monitoring the shifts in Arctic environments can aid in the remediation and mitigation of permafrost thaw. An array of micrometeorological sensors was deployed throughout Utqiaġvik, Alaska in June of 2022 to monitor and analyze differences in micrometeorological conditions and trends at various locations near buildings and infrastructure over a five-year period. Air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind direction, wind speed, soil volumetric water content (VWC), and ground temperature measurements are currently being collected at five sites: Taġiuġmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA), Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital (SSMH), Barrow Utilities and Electrical Cooperative, Inc. (BUCEI) (two sites), and the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). These measurements are complemented by annual thaw depth measurements, ground penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography analyses of ground ice conditions, as well as repeat LiDAR measurements for ground subsidence and structural changes.

  1. Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  2. School of Architecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  3. Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  4. Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Wainwright, AK, USA
  5. School of Integrated Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA
  6. Technology Ethics Center, University of Notre Dame, IN, USA
  7. TRIBN LLC, Utqiaġvik, AK, USA
  8. School of Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

URban Sustainability in Action: Multi-disciplinary Approach through Jointly Organized Research schools (URSA MAJOR)

Jenny Turton1, Igor Ezau2,3, Lasse Pettersson3, Vera Kuklina4, Sobah Abbas Petersen5,6, Alenka Temeljotov-Salaj5

View Poster | Twenty-three Students from five countries (Germany, Norway, Finland, India and USA) gathered for the 2022 Autumn school focusing on Urban Sustainability in the Arctic, a holistic socio-environmental programme for “Smart Cities” with an Arctic focus. The programme included: Dedicated science sessions at Arctic Frontiers 2023 on 'City Transformation by and for Citizens using Digital Technologies and Visualization' with 14 oral talks and 4 posters; Meetings at Arctic Frontiers 2023 with county councils, Mayors and other stakeholders; Presentations at European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference in 2022 and 2023;  Involved in discussions 'Urban and Societal Developments in Alaska and Norway' in Washington DC, September 2022, with academic and business stakeholders. 

  1. Arctic Frontiers
  2. The Arctic University of Norway
  3. 3 NERSC
  4. George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
  5. Norwegian University of Science and Technology