Arctic Freshwater Resource Dynamics and Socio-environmental Challenges: A Roundtable Discussion

Organized by Western Kentucky University; University of Akureyri; the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network; Icelandic Meteorological Office; Marine and Freshwater Institute, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group of the Arctic Council, and the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS) and the Rif Research Field Station 26. August 2016

Saturday, October 8, 15:30-17:00

Location: Eyri, Harpa Second Level

Global freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, including in Arctic regions where climatic influences are manifesting in the form of melting glaciers, increased flooding and hydrological variability, declines and changes to arctic flora and fauna, and changes in ocean water composition from freshwater inputs.

Further, ecosystem changes are as of yet unknown in many regions due to evolving long-term impacts from water resource variability. There lacks a dialogue on the social and environmental implications of changing global freshwater resources with respect to the Arctic, which is necessary to bring to realization the potential questions and stakeholders needed to identify solutions. Collectively, this session proposes to create discourse on the physical and socio-economic bases of future freshwater resources, including groundwater and surface water monitoring and understanding, vulnerability to flora and fauna from climatic and human impacts, the socio-environmental dynamics of water resource resilience, scarcity issues, quality and quantity, social equity, perception, and education. A key component is determining mechanisms for communicating between stakeholders and those individuals with the knowledge about the complexities of arctic freshwater challenges and opportunities into the future to couch this topic in an interconnected, broader social and policy context.


  • Jason Polk, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University: Freshwater Resources with Regard to a Changing Climate
  • Leslie North, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University: Effective Education and Communication about Regional Freshwater Resource Dynamics
  • Steingrímur Jónsson, Professor of Physical Oceanography, University of Akureyri, Scientist, Marine Research Institute: Fate of Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean and its Climate Significance
  • Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson, Glaciological Research, Icelandic Met Office: Glaciers and Ice Caps in the Arctic Region
  • Halldór Björnsson, Head of Atmospheric Research Group, Icelandic Met Office
  • Jón S. Ólafsson, Senior Scientist, Institute of Freshwater Fisheries: Freshwater Ecosystems in the Arctic
  • Thorsteinn Gunnarsson, Senior Adviser, Icelandic Center of Research, RANNÍS
  • Kári Fannar Lárusson, Programme Manager, CAFF
  • Jonina Sigridur Thorlaksdottir, Rif Research Station
  • Anisha Tuladhar, Geoscience Graduate Student, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University: Importance and Dynamics of Glacial Rivers in Iceland
  • James Graham, Western Kentucky University


  • Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Director, Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network