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Next steps toward an Arctic human dimensions observing system

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The goal of The Arctic Observing Network Social Indicators Project (AON-SIP) was to develop a system of social observations that can answer the question, ‘Is the arctic system moving to a new state?’ Much of the project effort focused on compiling data on human activities in the arctic that might interact with climate change and social indicators of arctic well-being. This paper reviews the adequacy of the data analyzed in the project for three objectives: observing changes in well-being of arctic residents, observing arctic changes relevant to global society, and understanding ongoing social change in the arctic. The review highlights issues of comparability of data across different scales in different nations, as well as key observation gaps. Understanding change in well-being of arctic residents also requires observing additional less-climate-related drivers of change that the AON-SIP did not address, many of which also suffer from the same issues of comparability and data gaps. Two types of recommendations are offered for developing the arctic social observation system: (1) recommendations through the Arctic Council to national statistical agencies to achieve internationally comparable data, and (2) recommendations for essential new primary data collection.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Social and Economic Research,University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence DriveAnchorageAlaska 99508, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011


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