Arctic Climate Predictions: Pathways to Resilient, Sustainable Societies (ARCPATH)


The Nordic Centre of Excellence project (Award 76654) Arctic Climate Predictions: Pathways to Resilient, Sustainable Societies (ARCPATH) was devised in response to the NordForsk call focusing on "Responsible Development of the Arctic: Opportunities and Challenges - Pathways to Action" established to generate new insights into the challenges and opportunities confronting the Arctic region. ARCPATH was funded for 5 years from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2020. A one-year extension was granted to 31 December 2021. Taking its cue from the NordForsk call, the ARCPATH project sought to combine improved regional climate predictions with enhanced understanding of environmental, societal, and economic interactions in order to supply new knowledge of Arctic "pathways to action". 

This goal was achieved through extensive cross-disciplinary collaboration resulting in a truly synergistic Nordic Centre of Excellence with a focus on responsible and sustainable development in northern communities.

The home and leadership of ARCPATH was shared by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre (NERSC) in Bergen, Norway (Dr Yongqi Gao as lead) and the Stefansson Arctic Institute, in Akureyri, Iceland (Dr Astrid Ogilvie as co-lead). Although the project was extremely successful, it is a matter of sorrow that Dr Gao did not live to see its completion. He became gravely ill in 2020 and passed away on 23 July 2021. Subsequently, NordForsk confirmed Astrid Ogilvie as Scientific Leader of ARCPATH with François Counillon as Project Leader at NERSC. A memorial symposium for Dr Gao was held at the University of Bergen on 7-9 September 2022. It was attended by his many colleagues both in Europe and China and ARCPATH team members were well represented.

The ARCPATH project generated knowledge of high importance for sustainable development in the Nordic Arctic Region, in particular for the project focus areas in Iceland, Greenland and northern Norway. The combined expertise of the ARCPATH team created new knowledge for disciplines including: physical sciences focusing on climate predictions; natural sciences focusing on ecology and behaviour of cetaceans; and social sciences such as anthropology and economics focusing on social impacts of fisheries governance, the societal importance of cetaceans and the implications of climate change. In seeking to synthesize results from such separate disciplines encompassing very different research methods, ARCPATH placed great emphasis on the need to go beyond the multidisciplinary approach in which different aspects of a project are conducted separately. Instead, the objective was interdisciplinarity, with the integration of different elements in order to provide greater insight into research questions and results where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Transdisciplinarity was a further goal, leading to co-creation of knowledge undertaken in collaboration with community members, stakeholders and other knowledge holders.

From the outset of the project, synthesis was an important goal of the research. Positive outcomes of ARCPATH were the innovative syntheses of results arising from very different, physical, natural and social science methods of inquiry. The highly successful ARCPATH project is now completed; however, its legacy will continue in terms of its numerous project outputs, not least in Nord, 2020 and papers therein (see Douglas C. Nord, editor, Nordic Perspectives on the Responsible Development of the Arctic: Pathways to Action, Springer Nature, Switzerland, and the continuation of its ethos in many new research endeavours. The project websites associated with both the Stefansson Arctic Institute and the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre will be available for the foreseeable future: and here.

Project Membership

Project Co-PIs: Dr Níels Einarsson, Director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute (SAI); Professor Noel Keenlyside, Bjerknes Centre, University of Bergen (UiB); Dr Marianne H. Rasmussen, Director of the University of Iceland (UoI) Research Centre in Húsavík; Dr Brynhildur Daviðsdóttir, Professor and Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Graduate Programme (UoI); Dr Shuting Yang, Senior Scientist, Danish Metorological Institute (DMI); and Dr Torben Koenigk, Senior Scientist, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI). Key researchers: Dr François Counillon (NERSC); Dr Nour-Edine Omrani (UiB); Dr Bo Christiansen (DMI).

Additional Icelandic representatives: Dr Edward Huijbens, now Professor and Chair of Wageningen University cultural geography research group, formerly Professor at the University of Akureyri and Senior Scientist at SAI; Dr Tom Barry, Executive Secretary of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF); Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network; Dr Gunnar Már Gunnarson, former Researcher at SAI, now a City Councillor in Akureyri; Dr Catherine Chambers, Research Manager, University Centre of the Westfjords and Senior Scientist at SAI; and David Cook, Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Iceland. Dr Laura Malinauskaite successfully defended her PhD thesis while undertaking ARCPATH research.

Other Nordic team members:

  • Norway: The University of Bergen (UiB);
  • The Arctic University of Norway (UiT);
  • The Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU).
  • Denmark: The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).
  • Sweden: The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

ARCPATH International Collaborators: Professor Leslie King, School of Environment and Sustainability, and Director, Canadian Centre for Environmental Education, Royal Roads University (RRU), Canada; Professor James R. McGoodwin, Department of Anthropology, and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado, USA; Dr Shari Fox Gearheard, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Colorado; Professor Sergey Gulev, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Science (IORAS), Russia; Dr Vladimir Semenov, Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Science (IAPRAS), Russia; Professor Ke Fan, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Professor Guðrún Magnúsdóttir, Chair Earth Systems Science, University of California; Dr Michael Karcher, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany; Dr Baoqiang Tian, Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, China; Dr Francois Massonnet, University College London, UK; Professor Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway (UiT); Professor Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, Barents Chair in Politics, University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway (UiT); Dr Yvan Orsolini, Senior Scientist, Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Norway; Professor Françoise Breton, The Autonomous University of Barcelona and the CER ARCTIC Research and Studies Centre; Dr Anniken Førde, UiT, The Arctic University of Norway; and Dr Margaret Willson, Affiliate Associate Professor of Anthropology and Canadian Studies at the University of Washington, USA.

ARCPATH Advisory Board Members: Professor Cecilia Bitz, University of Washington, USA; Professor Michael Bravo, Fellow of Downing College, and Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, and Head of the Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research Group at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge; Lawrence C. Hamilton, Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, USA; Dr Burkhardt Rockel of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Institute for Coastal Research, Germany.

The photographs show ARCPATH team members at the final project meeting held in Reykjavík in October 2019 (photographer unknown but employee of the Nordic House where the conference took place) and Project Leaders Yongqi Gao and Astrid Ogilvie at an ARCPATH meeting in Bergen in 2016 (photograph Leslie King).