Higher waves could threaten Arctic communities
14 October 2020
New research foresees dire consequences for coastal communities in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic thanks to massive swells fuelled by disappearing summer sea ice.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Canadian scientists projected that the average height of the Arctic Ocean’s highest waves could grow by nearly six meters. Closer to shore, the equivalent change is expected to be about two additional meters.
One of the problems is that if summer sea ice disappears completely, there will be larger expanses of water, creating a greater surface area over which wind can generate waves. Ice also helps to suppress waves.
Communities along the eastern shores of Greenland and in Canada’s western Arctic were already exploring ways to control shoreline erosion but may now need to factor in significantly higher waves as well. The waves could also pose a threat to commercial shipping traffic.
COVID-19 affected food systems and food security around the world, causing many people to recognize the vulnerability of the complex networks we depend on to cover our most basic needs. Indigenous peoples around the world are pushing for the right to feed themselves and be less dependent on industrial food systems. Indigenous food webs recognize the intricate connections between how we obtain our food, what we choose to eat, and how these choices can affect our own health and that of the planet. For the Arctic, a just transition post-pandemic depends on understanding the region and its food supply through an Arctic lens. As Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann argues, that means looking beyond a push toward plant-based food.
The concept of One Health can not only help us understand the social, ecological, economic and medical reasons behind the significant changes in the Arctic, but address and adapt to them in ways that are culturally appropriate and sustainable. Arleigh Reynolds explains how.