Climatic Change

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 77-92

The influence of human activity in the Arctic on climate and climate impacts

  • Henry P. HuntingtonAffiliated with Email author 
  • , Michelle BoyleAffiliated withInstitute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
  • , Gwenn E. FlowersAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University
  • , John W. WeatherlyAffiliated withSnow and Ice Division, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
  • , Lawrence C. HamiltonAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of New Hampshire
  • , Larry HinzmanAffiliated withWater and Environment Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • , Craig GerlachAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • , Rommel ZuluetaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Global Change Research Group, San Diego State University
  • , Craig NicolsonAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources Conservation, University of Massachusetts
    • , Jonathan OverpeckAffiliated withInstitute for the Study of Planet Earth, University of Arizona

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Human activities in the Arctic are often mentioned as recipients of climate-change impacts. In this paper we consider the more complicated but more likely possibility that human activities themselves can interact with climate or environmental change in ways that either mitigate or exacerbate the human impacts. Although human activities in the Arctic are generally assumed to be modest, our analysis suggests that those activities may have larger influences on the arctic system than previously thought. Moreover, human influences could increase substantially in the near future. First, we illustrate how past human activities in the Arctic have combined with climatic variations to alter biophysical systems upon which fisheries and livestock depend. Second, we describe how current and future human activities could precipitate or affect the timing of major transitions in the arctic system. Past and future analyses both point to ways in which human activities in the Arctic can substantially influence the trajectory of arctic system change.