In the Arctic LCC, cold is king. The prolonged periods of cold that characterize the arctic environment make life nearly impossible for all but a small selection of hearty species. Low temperature also shapes physical environment and as a result, permafrost, polygonal land forms, frost heaves, beaded streams, oriented thaw lakes, thick peaty soils, and sea ice dominate the landscape.
LCCs are dedicated to addressing high priority landscape-scale science needs. We cannot understand this landscape, or project the effects of a warming climate, until we have a better understanding of the physical processes that shape it. That is why the initial suite of Arctic LCC projects have had a strong emphasis on geophysical process studies. In the first two years of project funding, 26 of 36 funded projects are focused on, or relate directly to, some aspect of arctic geophysical processes.
However, LCCs are expected to address all important high priority science needs. While we gradually improve our understanding of how climate warming may be changing the landscape over the long term, we are also committed to studying topics of immediate import, such as: 1) the effects of a warming climate on subsistence food safety, 2) fish and bird distribution, and 3) the preservation of extant data sets that will become increasingly difficult to find and recover with time. We are also investing in building better collaborative relationships with our Canadian counterparts, and in facilitating the regulatory compliance process by consolidating information on ESA listed and candidate species in the arctic.
Common to all Arctic LCC projects is their responsiveness to our 4 conservation goals. Also common to all our projects is an effort to bring the scientific and management community closer to a holistic understanding of this complex and exceedingly fragile landscape. While it may be too late to avoid many of the coming effects of climate change, a better understanding of what is, and what may come, will help inform decisions about what we can save, and what we can do to facilitate adaptation to impending future conditions.