NNA Project Update Report for Arctic Urban Risks and Adaptations (AURA)

Jennifer Schmidt

Climate change is increasing vulnerability of arctic urban communities to natural hazards such as unstable permafrost, wildfire, and rain-in-winter events. These hazards put residents and property at risk and impose economic costs. Households, businesses, and governments must adapt to these multiple co-occurring hazards, which may have compound or off-setting interactions. The proposed research undertakes a spatially explicit assessment of the three natural hazards as they have evolved simultaneously in the Municipality of Anchorage and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada over the past several decades, and how they might change over the next 40 years. Our interdisciplinary research team of economists, permafrost, fire, weather/climate, environmental scientists, and policy experts will conduct transdisciplinary research on arctic natural hazards and their impacts on the natural and built environments and society. The research team will work closely with local governments and non- governmental organizations (NGOs), Indigenous groups, insurance companies, and residents to co-produce knowledge on the costs, risks and actions taken to mitigate and adapt to these hazards. They will work with these stakeholders to identify trade-offs and interactions, develop a multiple-hazard risk assessment, and generate options for future adaptive planning. Research activities over four years include: (1) spatial modeling and mapping of natural hazards and their interactions; (2) gathering data to assess perceived risks, values at risk, and adaptation costs with interviews, property owner surveys, and citizen science; (3) economic modeling of costs and risks; and (4) developing in a series of scenario planning workshops an adaptive policy framework that can be used to adapt to and mitigate multiple hazards and reduce future costs and risks.