Overall Goal

Natural disasters are taking an increasing annual toll on life and property worldwide. This is not just because of increased population at risk but also because of climate change and the vulnerability of our technologically based, urban-centralized society. The likelihood that extreme events will cause disasters is exacerbated in the Arctic by extreme cold, great distances, and limited infrastructure. In short, natural hazards threaten the sustainability of Arctic communities. We need to become more proactive in training the next generation of natural hazard scientists and public safety decision makers and, consistent with the policy of the Arctic Council, these experts need to be able to work with each other across borders in the North. Our goal is to contribute to this future of better informed and more collaborative approaches to public safety.

Main Activities

  • Sharing of experiences and best practices, especially through field workshops and field schools.
  • Development of online courses in natural hazards science drawing on the best experience of each network member.
  • Integrated degree paths among our members, with the goal that all graduate students in natural hazards science will spend some time at a partner university to gain a broader perspective.
  • Propose and conduct joint research projects on natural processes that create hazards.
  • Develop and test new technologies for real-time monitoring, hazard and impact assessment, and forecasting.
  • Link monitoring across borders to improve event detection.
  • Develop best practices in stimulating preparedness by all stakeholders through realistic event scenarios and through education.
  • Co-develop disaster-related science diplomacy (disaster diplomacy) activities, such as workshops, conferences sessions, research projects, and publications with the Science Diplomacy Thematic Network.

Current and Planned Activities

  • A session and a workshop on the subject of disaster-related science diplomacy with an emphasis on the Arctic region to be held at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2018 Meeting in Washington, D.C., December 2018.
  • A collaborative chapter “U.S.-Russia Disaster Diplomacy in the Arctic: Current Status and Future Prospects” written by the members of the Natural Hazards thematic to be released in a Springer Polar Sciences Series book entitled “Arctic Triumph” (est. November 2018).
  • An interdisciplinary and international Research Coordination Network (RCN): A Global Network of Disaster-Related Research and Diplomacy in the Arctic is being assembled to advance research and education efforts in Arctic disaster resilience.
  • A series of chapters on the subject of disaster resilience in the Arctic will be contributed to the Springer (2020) edited volume “Science Diplomacy for Disaster Risk Reduction: Advancing Disaster Resilience through International Scientific Collaborations and Stakeholder Engagement.” Natural Hazards thematic participants invited to contribute manuscripts.  
  • Proposals totaling $8 M were submitted to the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP; GFZ, Potsdam) and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) to initiate the Krafla Magma Testbed at Krafla Caldera, Iceland. This will be the world’s first magma observatory, and has the dual objectives of revolutionizing geothermal energy - the only non-CO2, continuous bed load, small-footprint - and volcano monitoring. This international infrastructure will be used to “ground truth” methods of locating active magma bodies and interpretation signals thought to represent volcano “unrest”, and to pioneer direct measurement of conditions in magma chambers to vastly improve forecasting of eruptions. The facility will also provide rich educational opportunities on themes of natural hazards, clean energy, and climate change in cooperation with the University of Akureyri and Iceland.
  • Presentations at the Alaska Forum on the Environment, Anchorage, February 2019, on forming an inclusive consortium to evaluate flood and coastal erosion hazards, projecting forward by incorporating regional climate forecasts, and exploring options for mitigating risk to rural Arctic villages. 
  • Springtime Flood Risk Reduction in Rural Arctic: A Comparative Study of Interior Alaska, United States and Central Yakutia, Russia (doi:10.3390/geosciences8030090) summarizes the key findings of the bilateral and interdisciplinary scientific and education collaboration implemented by the Natural Hazards Thematic Network in 2015-2016.