Projected decrease in trail access in the Arctic

IHACC Research Team, James D. Ford*, D. G. Clark, L. Copland, T. Pearce, James D. Ford*, Sherilee Harper, Lea Berrang Ford, Cesar Carcamo, Patricia Garcia, Shuaib Lwasa, Didacus Namanya, Mark New, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo, S. L. Harper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Transportation systems in northern Canada are highly sensitive to climate change. We project how access to semi-permanent trails on land, water, and sea ice might change this century in Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homeland in northern Canada), using CMIP6 projections coupled with trail access models developed with community members. Overall trail access is projected to diminish, with large declines in access for sea ice trails which play a central role for Inuit livelihoods and culture; limits to adaptation in southern regions of Inuit Nunangat within the next 40 years; a lengthening of the period when no trails are accessible; and an unequal distribution of impacts according to the knowledge, skills, equipment, and risk tolerance of trail users. There are opportunities for adaptation through efforts to develop skillsets and confidence in travelling in more marginal environmental conditions, which can considerably extend the envelope of days when trails are accessible and months when this is possible. Such actions could reduce impacts across emissions scenarios but their potential effectiveness declines at higher levels of global warming, and in southern regions only delays when sea ice trails become unusable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Jackie Dawson at the University of Ottawa for sea ice chart conversion. We received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence Canada, University of Leeds, and the University of Ottawa. We thank three anonymous reviewers who provided constructive feedback. We thank all the community members who were involved in the original research from which this paper builds.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Projected decrease in trail access in the Arctic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this