GRSG Conference 2022: Orbit to Outcrop

Title: Geo-data for risk management in a changing Arctic – if we don’t measure, we don’t know.

Author: Pooja Mahapatra


The Arctic region is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, as shown by recent studies. This is observed through decreasing sea ice, snow and glaciers as well as thawing permafrost. Permafrost covers around a quarter of the northern hemisphere’s land surface. The Arctic permafrost, including Russia, North America and Scandinavia, is home to 5 million people, at least 120,000 buildings, 40,000 km of roads and 9,500 km of pipelines, as well as airstrips. 70% of infrastructure and 30-50% of critical infrastructure in the Arctic is at high risk of damage by 2050, with projected cost of tens of billions of dollars. The Arctic coastlines have seen an average erosion rate of nearly half a meter per year over the last 50 years. As global warming is expected to continue for decades, these trends are expected to continue.

In this presentation, endorsed by the World Geospatial Industry Council, we focus on the risks of multiple climate change impacts including permafrost thaw, reduced sea-ice and glaciers, and sea-level rise on (critical) infrastructure and coastlines, to demonstrate the role of geo-data in understanding, predicting and mitigating these risks. We illustrate a selection of geospatial and geophysical (remote sensing) technology enablers that contribute towards understanding and adapting to the changing Arctic.