IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Impacts on resource use, traditional economies and lifestyles

Terrestrial resources are critical aspects of Arctic residents’ livelihoods, culture, traditions and health (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, 2003; Chapin et al., 2005a). Per capita consumption of wild foods by rural Alaskans is 465 g per day (16% land mammals, 10% plant products) and consumption by urban Alaskans is 60 g per day. The collective value of these foods in the state is estimated at about US$200 million/yr. Consumption in Canadian Arctic communities ranges from 106 g per day to 440 g per day, accounting for 6 to 40% of total energy intake and 7 to 10% of the total household income in Nunavik and Nunavut (Kuhnlein et al., 2001; Chabot, 2004). Terrestrial ecosystem resources include caribou/reindeer, moose, musk ox, migratory birds and their eggs, and plants and berries (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, 2003; Chapin et al., 2005a). Wild and domesticated caribou/reindeer are particularly important, as they provide food, shelter, clothing, tools, transportation and, in some cases, marketable goods (Klein, 1989; Paine, 1994; Kofinas et al., 2000; Jernsletten and Klokov, 2002). Wood, sods, peat and coal are used locally as fuels throughout the north. Despite the significant role these resources represent to Arctic residents, ties to subsistence activities among indigenous peoples are deteriorating because of changes in lifestyles, cultural, social, economic and political factors (Chapin et al., 2005a). These ties are expected to continue decreasing as climate-driven changes in terrestrial ecosystems influence conditions for hunting, decreases in natural resources, and loss of traditional knowledge. Together these shifts are turning previously well-adapted Arctic peoples into “strangers in their own lands” (Berkes, 2002).

Agriculture in southern parts of the Arctic is limited by short, cool growing seasons and lack of infrastructure, including limited local markets because of small populations and long distances to large markets (Juday et al., 2005). The northern limit of agriculture may be roughly approximated by a metric based on the cumulative degree-days above +10°C (Sirotenko et al., 1997). By the mid-21st century, climatic warming may see displacement of its position to the north by a few hundred kilometres over most of Siberia, and up to 100 km elsewhere in Russia (Anisimov and Belolutskaia, 2001). Thus climate warming is likely to lead to the opportunity for an expansion of agriculture and forestry where markets and infrastructure exist or are developed. While conservation management and protected areas are extensive in the Arctic, these only protect against direct human actions, not against climate-induced vegetation zone shifts, and decisions need to be made about the goals and methods of conservation in the future (Callaghan et al., 2005; Klein et al., 2005; Usher et al., 2005).