The stigma of climate change in the Arctic is sometimes described as ‘the canary in the coal mine’: when they stopped singing in the mine, the miners knew the air was getting intoxicated and that they needed to leave.  By analogy, the transformations in the Arctic are a bellwether for the environmental changes we can expect to see globally in the coming decades. The most dramatic expression of these transformations is the large and rapid decline in sea ice, but this is not the only change. Temperatures are warming up to four times faster in the Arctic. The ocean surface layer is becoming fresher and more acidic. The impacts of the transformations affecting all the Arctic system’s components (ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere) are also large and widespread. Changes in environmental conditions are altering primary production, marine ecosystems, and the marine food web. The Arctic people, almost 4 millions of inhabitants, who are significantly impacted by these profound transformations, are witnessing changes to their natural environment and the resources upon which they rely. They are also directly affected by the new and changing socio-economic activities in the region (e.g. resource extraction, tourism, shipping). The impacts of Arctic changes are not just local, and changes can potentially trigger shifts in the global ocean and atmospheric circulations, and thus impact global climate.

Climate models, used for example in the latest IPCC report, all predict that the changes observed in the Arctic will intensify strongly in the future. However, they do not agree on the intensity and speed of changes in physical and biogeochemical conditions in different regions of the Arctic, which hinders our ability to examine the local and global impacts of these changes.

The CLIMArcTIC project aims to understand and predict (1) the regionalized responses of Arctic physical and biogeochemical conditions to future intensification of climate change over the 21st century; (2) the associated impacts on local Arctic communities, socio-economic activities in the region, as well as on global climate. This objective can only be achieved with a fully integrative and multidisciplinary approach: the CLIMArcTIC consortium thus brings together about fifty researchers and engineers specialized in physical oceanography, glaciology, climate dynamics, applied mathematics and artificial intelligence, biogeochemistry, biology, political science, geography, law, anthropology, regional development and geopolitics. Finally, building on the general public’s fascination with the polar regions, considered the last unexplored regions of our planet, CLIMArcTIC will also contribute to raising awareness in society about climate change related-issues through innovative outreach and educational programs.

CLIMArcTIC is one of the 6 projects awarded by the first call of the French program « Ocean and Climate » funded by France 2030.

CLIMArcTIC – 2023