The case studies focus on extreme events of Arctic weather and climate on different time scales, and their impact on a specific aspect of society or daily life in the Arctic and beyond. Severe Weather Europe has a good collection and documentation of unusual weather events in Europe. Visit the APPLICATE website for examples of case studies done by the project so far.
Renewable energy comes from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, etc. that offer environmental, economic and energy-security benefits. On overview of renewable energy resources in the Arctic can be found in the Arctic Renewable Energy Atlas. However, natural sources also bring challenges, since they are strongly affected by weather and climate variability, which cause wide variations in both energy supply and demand. Forecasting this variability at different timescales is crucial for efficient energy management. For instance, a growing number of windparks is operating or planned (e.g., offshore and along the coast of Norway).
Some challenges for renewable energy production in the Arctic are:
Case study E1 - Renewable energy production in the Arctic: Periods of too low or too high wind speed that may hinder energy production to meet demands. Therefore, it is important to investigate when, where and for how long may these conditions occur?
Case study E2 - Icing on wind parks: Cold temperatures and high wind speeds than can lead to ice accumulations on the blades of wind turbines (icing). Such icing may require increased maintenance, may cause severe damage to the windmills, resulting in less reliable energy production in winter. What weather parameters are crucial for such icing, and how can they be forecasted?
In an increasingly warming Arctic, weather and climate phenomena that typically characterise southern locations, tend to advance northwards. That is the case of heatwaves, which are becoming more frequent and intense in polar regions, also favouring the occurrence of wildfires in areas where they haven’t been common in the past.
Some challenges for health in the Arctic are:
Case study H1 - Heatwaves & fires: During a heatwave in July 2018, 11 fires occurred above the Arctic Circle and caused air pollution and severe threats to local infrastructure. For large parts of northern Europe, increased risk of wildfires was predicted for summer 2018. Can Arctic heatwaves be anticipated using climate predictions? And would it be possible to predict the risk of fires associated to heatwaves, i.e., to send an early warning to civil services? How can the risk of forest fires be mitigated in the long-term future?
Case study H2 - Human health and comfort: Elevated temperature and humidity may also affect human health and comfort. Initiatives such as the Inuit Mental Health and Wellness map offers an inventory of programs that focus on health and comfort-related issues. Certain population groups are particularly susceptible and coping strategies will need to be developed in northern countries. What can be done to better forecast future heatwaves in order to minimize human discomfort and health problems?
Due to climate change, the frequency and intensity of weather-related risks and hazards (e.g., storms, iceberg formation, cold spells, etc.) may change.
Some challenges for safety and the insurance sector in the Arctic are:
Case study S1 - Future risks for hazards: Can we expect an increased risk from certain weather- and/or climate-related natural disasters in the Arctic that affect everyday operations at sea, transport, tourism, search and rescue, or other activities? Which information could be provided to support adaptation and preparedness, and thus continue safely performing these activities?
Case study S2 - Heat and rockfalls: An increased risk from rockfalls in mountainous regions has been identified during exceptionally warm periods, for example on Lofoten mountains in northern Norway. Rockfalls are common in areas with mountain permafrost. During exceptionally warm periods, could these events become more common in areas without permafrost? How could this be assessed?
Because of climate change, parameters of the atmosphere and the ocean (e.g. temperature, salinity) as well as ice cover are rapidly changing in the Arctic. These changes are happening too fast for wildlife to adapt to the new habitat conditions.
Here there are some examples:
Case study B1 - Sea ice and biodiversity: The loss of sea ice, which is rapidly changing both in extent and thickness, is pushing polar bears into communities, making walruses no longer able to haul-out on sea ice, and putting caribou at greater risk of falling through thin ice as they cross between islands (just to give a few examples). How can a better prediction of sea ice extent help identify those habitats that are more at risk (e.g. of changing or disappearing)?
Case study B2 - Climate variables and marine biodiversity: Marine habitat is also impacted by changes in the temperature of the atmosphere as well as ocean temperature and salinity. How can we forecast changes in temperature and salinity (or other variables) that move beyond a range of tolerance of certain species (e.g. fish or algae), making their typical habitats unsuitable, and affecting migration and habitats shifts? (e.g. autochthonous species disappearing from one area, exotic/invasive species extending their range to the Arctic habitats?)
Case study L1: Local infrastructure and rain on snow events: In winter, rain on snow events are increasingly common in Arctic coastal areas and present challenges for local infrastructure and traffic. For example, the roofs of private houses and large public buildings (e.g. schools, kindergartens, sports facilities, factories) that collect snow may become heavy and unstable after rain on snow events. In addition, rain on snowy roads and walkways creates icy and slippery conditions that are challenging for the every days life of local residents and the regional transport of goods. How can winterly temperature and precipitation forecasts be adjusted to suit the needs of local communities and regional transport industry?