Changing risks to outdoor activity in the Arctic: Resilience to climate-related community change

Theme 5. Other
Session Name 5.3 Health promotion and population health
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Agneta Larsson (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden), David Chapman (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)
Abstract text

Arctic communities have over generations evolved lifestyles that fit with working and living with local conditions and seasonal variations. With climate change, however, comes evolving and unknown weather’s that these communities need to adapt too. These environmental changes may present new risk and unexpected outcomes to outdoor activity that communities will need to address.


In subarctic regions, pedestrians encounter a variety of road or pavement surface conditions, such as snow, ice, melting ice or mixed icy and snowy surfaces.  Slips and falls are a significant cause of work- and leisure-time accidents. The costs for medical care of fall-related injury treatment is high. Fear can also result in physical inactivity which is a significant population health concern worldwide. 


This presentation highlights the traditional risks associated with outdoor activity in winter and how they are changing with climate change. It does this through the analysis of survey responses about the use of outdoor public space. The survey is from 1) 344 people in the city of Luleå Sweden (Dfc climate classification area), and 2) 325 responses from people living in Dfb and Dfc climate areas across the world, e.g. Canada.


At a societal level, this change suggests that new forms of sustainable development and public policy are needed. These could help reduce costs and pressures on the health services by creating safer and more walkable arctic communities. Here costs and benefits related to inactivity and injury are high and affect both the individual and society as a whole.

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