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edX

Climate Change in Arctic Environments

University of Alaska Fairbanks via edX

Overview

  • You will learn from researchers and staff from a variety of disciplines at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center and its collaborators.
  • An introduction to a variety of areas of expertise, from atmospheric science to traditional knowledge on subsistence calendars, will equip you to understand these complex systems and the knowledge-holders who examine them in detail.
  • You will develop a basic understanding of climate change in the circumpolar arctic through examining four primary systems: atmospheric systems, marine systems, terrestrial systems, and human systems.
  • Key concepts will be explained with practical Arctic-focused examples including Arctic climate modelling, climate policy, physical properties of the ocean, and more.
  • You will learn to trace impacts through those complex systems from physical science, through the biodiversity of flora and fauna, and on to the societies that depend on those resources.
  • Key texts to understanding environmental change will be made available to participants with guidance, giving you the skills to understand reports and policies impacting the region.

Title image credit - Steffen M. Olsen, Climate researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute

Syllabus

Week 1: Change in our Arctic Atmosphere

  • Atmospheric systems and how climate change affects them across the Arctic
  • Temperature and precipitation
  • Snow, storms, extreme events, and air quality
  • Modeling and climate model projections, downscaled projections

Week 2: Change On and Under the Waves

  • Ocean temperature & salinity
  • Changes in Arctic sea ice concentration, formation, and thickness
  • Ocean currents
  • Ocean acidification and ocean change
  • The marine food web: algal blooms, fish, marine mammals
  • How changes in physical properties impact the entire marine food web

Week 3: Our Changing Terrestrial Environment

  • Permafrost and terrestrial snow cover
  • Glacial ice
  • Vegetation
  • Wildfire impacts
  • Terrestrial animals and ecosystems
  • Birds
  • Future changes

Week 4: The Human Element

  • History of humans in the Arctic
  • Food security
  • Governance: local and global policy
  • Risk and vulnerability assessments
  • Infrastructure
  • Adaptation actions and multiple stressors

Taught by

Rick Thoman Jr and John Walsh

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