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Focus on consequences of climate change in the Arctic

Published: 10 January 2018

Climate changes affect the four million inhabitants living in the Arctic. January 16-17, researchers from four countries meet in Abisko for a workshop initiated by Luleå University of Technology. The aim is to start forming an agenda for how urban planning and public health work can handle new climate-related risks in the Arctic.

– The society needs to facilitate and plan for people to be able to be outdoors all seasons. It is already tough on our latitudes, with the weather and the darkness in the winter. Climate change adds further risks and challenges upon that, says Agneta Larsson, doctor in physiotherapi at Luleå University of Technology.

She is one of the University's seven researchers attending the ARUS conference (Arctic Risks in Urban Spaces) in Abisko on 16-17 January. ARUS is initiated and led by Luleå University of Technology and has participants from the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and universities in Scotland, Sweden, Norway and Finland, including all universities in the Arctic Five cooperation.

"Important that researchers from different areas meet"

The researchers operate in different subjects such as physiotherapy, architecture, climate and experimental mechanics.

– The participating research groups have different skills, but the problem statement is focused. The issue of how public health work and urban planning deal with the new climate-related risks in the Arctic affects at least four million people in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Canada and Alaska. This is why it is so important that researchers from different areas meet at the workshop in Abisko, says Agneta Larsson.

New climatic conditions, with more precipitation and ice, increase the risk of falling accidents and also make it difficult for people to move outdoors in wintertime.

– This can lead to people not being active in the amount needed for the body's functions and health, says Agneta Larsson, who is also invited to talk about ARUS at the conference International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, held in Amsterdam 2-4 May.

Ability to live active and healthy lives

The question about climate change in the Arctic and how it affects the inhabitants, is high on the agenda, says David Chapman, PhD student in architecture at Luleå University of Technology. A smart planning of communities and neighborhoods in Arctic regions is of great importance to people's ability to live active and healthy lives.

– You have to think 20 years ahead of time; what are we planning for and how will it affect people's living conditions? Climate change is something we need to take into account in planning, says David Chapman, who will talk about the impact of climate change on urban planning at the Nordic Urban Assembly, NUDA, in Bergen, 24-25 January.

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