Research on the Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut: A Literature Review and Gap Analysis


  • James D. Ford
  • Kenyon C. Bolton
  • Jamal Shirley
  • Tristan Pearce
  • Martin Tremblay
  • Michael Westlake



climate change, Arctic, Canada, Inuit, systematic review, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, research needs assessment


Research on the human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) in the Canadian Arctic has expanded so rapidly over the past decade that we do not have a clear grasp of the current state of knowledge or research gaps. This lack of clarity has implications for duplication of climate policy and research, and it has been identified as a problem by communities, scientists, policy makers, and northern organizations. Our review of current knowledge about the HDCC in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut indicates that the effects of climate change on subsistence harvesting and other land-based activities and the determinants of vulnerability and adaptation to such changes are well understood. However, the effects of climate change on health are less known. In the nascent research on this topic, studies on food security and personal safety dominate, and little peer-reviewed scholarship focuses on the business and economic sector. Published research shows a strong bias toward case studies in smaller communities, especially communities in Nunavut. Such studies have focused primarily on negative impacts of climate change, present-day vulnerabilities, and adaptive capacity, but studies proposing opportunities for adaptation intervention are beginning to emerge. While documenting the serious risks posed by climate change, they also highlight the adaptability of northern populations and the effects of economic-political stresses on vulnerability to changing climate. We note the absence of studies that examine how Northerners can benefit from new opportunities that may arise from climate change, or assess how the interaction of future climatic and socio-economic changes (specifically, resource development and enhanced shipping) will affect their experience of and response to climate change, or discuss the broader determinants of vulnerability and adaptation.