Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Policy Options for Arctic Shipping. A report prepared for Transport Canada

Title: Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Policy Options for Arctic Shipping. A report prepared for Transport Canada
Authors: Dawson, Jackie
Date: 2017-01-01
Abstract: This report presents an assessment of adaptation strategies and policy options for Arctic shipping in Canada. It is based on two stages of analysis. The first stage examines the past, present, and future trends of ship traffic, and the nature and implications of changing arctic sea ice conditions for shipping. The second stage outlines the risks and opportunities for shipping activity associated with climate change, and then assesses the adaptations and responses through expert review. The report provides for Transport Canada recommendations to address risks and opportunities of shipping in the Canadian Arctic that have been vetted directly by Arctic ship operators. The research examined past and present shipping activities based on the NORDREG records for 1990 to 2013 plus supplementary information to generate a picture of temporal and spatial patterns of ship traffic. Marine traffic has increased dramatically over this time period, with some vessel types’ involvement increasing more than others (e.g., Pleasure Craft, Government Vessels, and Icebreakers). Spatial concentrations have been consistent, though changes in intensity are evident. For example, the southeastern area off Baffin Island is an area of concentration, and the southern route of the Northwest Passage is more popular than the northern route. Some vessel types, such as Fishing Vessels and Bulk Carriers, are more spatially limited than others. The distance travelled doubled between 1990 and 2013, with a notably steep increase in distances over the years from 2006 to 2008. The research found some correlations between increasing vessel traffic and changing sea ice conditions. Overall, there is an increasingly strong relationship between annual vessel counts and the area of multi-year ice, indicating an increase in favourable conditions for shipping. But the nuances in the relationship show that changing ice conditions alone are not responsible for overall vessel increases and observed shoulder-season increases in traffic. In order to project future trends, the research used a model to incorporate a broad range of input factors and translate them into corresponding traffic levels by ship type, location, and time period. This model simulated traffic for the year 2020 by using ship tracks from 2011. The 2020 simulation shows gridded traffic concentrations and tracks reflecting inputted environmental and economic conditions. In the second stage of the research, interviews were undertaken to explore risks, opportunities, and adaptation strategies related to the impacts of climate change and changing shipping patterns. Interviewees reviewed the predictions about changing conditions and provided their views on the relative strength of climate change as a direct driver of shipping activity across Arctic Canada. Economic conditions, rather than climate change, was ranked as the primary driver of shipping change, although climate change was recognized by all interviewees as an important enabler of shipping activity. Risks and opportunities of changing patterns were divided into direct impacts of climate change and compounding impacts.. A suite of adaptation strategies for further evaluation was created through this stage. Emphasis was placed on several steps of validation to assess the desirability and feasibility (i.e., affordability and ease of implementation) of strategies in order to create a set of recommendations for three time frames (short-term, medium-term, long-term). Strategies were categorized into four themes: regulation and policy; planning, preparedness, and enforcement; infrastructure, services, and training; and research. Analysis was based on the level of consensus among individual members of an expert panel. Further validation was undertaken with Transport Canada and Canadian Arctic shipping companies.
CollectionGéographie, environnement et géomatique - Publications // Geography, Environment and Geomatics - Publications