ARCRISK (2009-2014)

Arctic Health Risks: Impacts on health in the Arctic and Europe owing to climate-induced changes in contaminant cycling


ArcRisk aims to describe, using selected climate change and chemical usage scenarios, the changing routes and mechanisms by which POPs are delivered to the Arctic and the possible role of climate variability and global climate change on the processes influencing POP transfer and distribution. 

Long-range transport of contaminants to the Arctic, the resulting exposures observed in Arctic human populations, and impacts of such exposures on human health have been the subject of considerable work in recent years, providing a baseline against which to compare future developments. Global climate change has the potential to remobilize environmental contaminants and alter contaminant transport pathways, fate, and routes of exposure in human populations. The Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change and already exhibits clear impacts. Research into contaminant exposure and its effects on human health in the Arctic, in comparison with other exposed populations in Europe, presents an opportunity to gain insight into changes that may later impact other areas. The influence of climate change on contaminant spreading and transfer and the resultant risk to human populations in the Arctic and other areas of Europe will be studied by:

1) Research on the ways in which climate change will affect the long-range transport and fate of selected groups of contaminants, and
possible implications for the re-distribution of contaminants (geographically and between relevant environmental media). This will involve modelling, utilizing the information base that exists on the distribution of such contaminants in the Arctic and other areas of Europe;

2) Research on the impacts that changing pathways and climatic conditions will have on contaminant uptake and transfer within food webs, leading to foods consumed by humans. This will involve experimental work, process studies and targeted analytical studies, the latter focussed on supporting the modelling work and process studies related to human exposure to contaminants;

3) Research focussing on human health, aimed at determining how climate-mediated changes in the environmental fate of selected groups of contaminants will result in changes in exposure of human populations, in the Arctic and in selected areas of Europe.

The research components of the ArcRisk proposal are organized around three main work packages comprising (WP2) the utilization of models to investigate contaminant transport under present and future climate scenarios, (WP3) process studies to investigate key parts of the chain linking environmental contamination to human exposure under climate-mediated influences, and (WP4) the investigation of available epidemiological databases and human health statistics, in particular those based on cohort studies in both the Arctic and selected areas of Europe, to attempt to resolve the influences on health of contaminants and climate change from the many other determinants of health. The potential influence of climate variability and global climate change will be studied using emissions and climate scenarios for the first half of the 21st century and up to the year 2100. Two important additional work packages address the integration of the overall results of the work and elucidation of their policy implications (WP5) and the necessary stakeholder/communications issues (WP6) that are considered essential to the implementation of the planned programme of work and the dissemination of key findings for broader use, including in policy-making.

ArcRisk is lead by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme AMAP. Funding of the project is provided from the EU commission under FP7.

The role of O.A.Sys will be to run long-range pollutant transport experiments, develop and implement a sediment/suspended matter module into the NAOSIM circulation model and run scenario experiments jointly with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).

ArcRisk started in June 2009.

Below you can find the latest project newsletter, as well as a Poster presented at the AMAP conference 'The Arctic as a messenger for global processes: climate change and pollution', May 4-6 2011 in Copenhagen.