Join CAFF on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Kattitavik Town Hall, Kuujjuaq, QC, Canada for a public meeting to discuss Arctic birds. 

  • LEARN about the Arctic Council, and how it is working to conserve Arctic Birds.
  • LAUGH as we watch a human turn into a bird!
  • WATCH an award-winning movie about the birds and people of the Belcher Islands
  • TASTE food from around the Arctic including home-made tea and bannock 

 Public Event poster Kuujjuaq


The award-winning "People of a Feather" movie will be shown



The public event will be hosted on the side of CAFF's next board meeting February 10-12, 2014 in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, Canada. The CAFF board will discuss upcoming projects and priorities.  




Benjamin Saunders

+1 819 964 2943 ext. 245


Vicky Johnston

Canadian representative to CAFF

+1 867 669-4753

Hans Meltofte, chief scientist of the ABA and Naalakkersuisoq Kim Nielsen at a reception celebrating the release of the ABA. Photo: Carsten Egevang/ARC-PIC.comJanuary Naalakkersuisoq for Environment and Nature, Kim Kielsen, held a reception on January 8, 2014 at the Greenland Representation in Copenhagen, Denmark to celebrate the publication of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA).

In May 2013, the Arctic Council released a provisional scientific report at the Ministerial conference in Kiruna Sweden that summarized the present status and trends of Arctic nature. This is the first time such an analysis has been made for the Arctic and is viewed as a milestone in Arctic cooperation. 

The principal conclusion of the ABA is that current, ongoing climate change constitutes the most serious threat to Arctic nature. Even though Arctic ecosystems and species are thought to be more resilient to climate variation than those ecosystems and species elsewhere in the world, anticipated Arctic climate change will probably exceed the capacity for some species to adapt. The report also concludes that some species, despite active management, suffer from great population reductions as a result of over-exploitation.

The report contains a number of recommendations to conserve biodiversity and provide knowledge to assist in policy and decision-making in the Arctic. One recommendation is to ensure that species will be capable of reaching healthy and robust population sizes, so that these species become able to withstand wide-ranging climate changes.

In connection with the publication, Naalakkersuisoq wanted to take the opportunity to thank collaborators and partners, including researchers and organizations, for their contributions to this comprehensive work.

“The ABA concludes that climate changes constitute the biggest threat against our nature. Unfortunately some species are still not exploited sustainably," Naalakkersuisoq Kim Kielsen said. "It is important to emphasize the human factor in terms of our actions in our natural surroundings. The climate changes and the adjustments we need to work with in that respect is one thing. Another thing is non-sustainable exploitation of a variety of species. The report shows that retrogression still occurs in certain species, despite an active administration aimed at sustainable exploitation. To me it is important to ensure that we live in harmony with and respect for our nature and the living resources there. It is also important that we do not stop here – the report emphasizes that it helps to make an active, determined effort. We have been very anxious to ensure a sustainable exploitation of our living resources – we are headed in the right direction, and we need to keep moving in that direction.”

The report is published by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council. The large-scale ABA was launched under Greenland’s chairmanship in 2006-2009 and has involved more than 250 individuals from 15 countries as expert participants and contributors. It has taken more than seven years and cost more the 20 million Danish Krone (3.6 million USD) to draw up the report.

For more information please visit the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment website.


Inge Thaulow

Ministry of Housing, Nature and the Environment

Government of Greenland

Greenland Representation in Copenhagen

Tel. +45 328 338 52

Email Inge Thaulow






As the current Chair of the Arctic Council, Canada has the pleasure of making this statement on behalf of the Arctic Council States – Canada, Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America – and the six Arctic Council indigenous permanent participant organizations.

The theme during Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council is “development for people of the North” – development that improves well-being and prosperity, and also values and supports traditional ways of life, culture, livelihoods, health, while protecting the environment.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases are resulting in rapid changes in the climate and physical environment of the Arctic with widespread effects for societies and ecosystems and repercussions around the world.

Since the late 1970s, Arctic inhabitants and scientists have observed rapid reductions in snow and ice cover.  September 2012 marked the lowest sea ice extent ever recorded.  Arctic inhabitants are highly sensitive to climate change, and are among the first to experience its impacts. 

The IPCC recently concluded that over the last two decades, the Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass, that Arctic sea ice and snow cover in the northern hemisphere have continued to decrease, and that these developments are expected to continue during the 21st century as global mean temperature rises.

A changing climate has consequences for biodiversity, ecosystems, and human living conditions in the Arctic, posing distinct challenges related to adaptation and to the diverse resources that northern communities depend upon for their survival.  Since its founding in 1996, the Arctic Council has played, and continues to play, a leadership role in highlighting the environmental, cultural and societal implications of climate change for Arctic inhabitants, with a particular emphasis on Indigenous Peoples. 

Recent Arctic Council scientific assessments, including the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment that considered both western science and traditional knowledge, and the Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, both suggest that climate change is the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity and ecosystems.  The Arctic Council’s work has also highlighted the imperative of reducing short lived climate pollutants to slow near term warming and provide climate and health benefits to northerners.   

Here are a few things that we have learned from the Arctic Council`s activities on climate. 

Within the Arctic Council, we know that we can learn from each other, and cooperate to contribute to global solutions.  This is why Arctic Council States remain firmly committed to work alongside other countries under the UNFCCC to reach – as a matter of urgency – an ambitious, inclusive, durable and flexible protocol, other legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention, applicable to all Parties by 2015 which will meet the long term goal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

To effectively address the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, it is clear that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions, coupled with actions to reduce emissions of short lived climate pollutants, particularly black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, which are contributing significantly to near-term impacts in the Arctic. This is why the Arctic States have mandated a dedicated, action-oriented task force to develop arrangements to achieve black carbon and methane reductions in the Arctic region.  Ambitious action on these short lived climate pollutants could reduce Arctic warming by up to 0.7 degrees Celsius.  Arctic States, Arctic Council observers, and other stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to these reductions. 

Furthermore, through observations and experiences with changes in the Arctic, we recognize that we will need to do more to adapt and increase our resilience to climate change.  Within the Arctic Council, we continue to undertake activities together to enhance our capacity in this regard, and to carry out scientific assessments and other projects, which advance our understanding and inform our actions.

Climate change effects in the Arctic not only impact Arctic nations, but are a major global concern, resulting in widespread effects on the global climate system and on societies and ecosystems around the world.

Earlier this year, the Arctic Council welcomed several new observer States. We are confident in their abilities, tools, knowledge, and desire to make major strides in the fight against climate change.  We look forward to working with them, to make even greater progress on addressing climate change and its impacts.

Thank you.

Photo: by UNClimateChange on Flickr / Creative Commons BY / Click here to access original


Spitsbergen. Photo: Incredible Arctic /Shutterstock.comMarine fishes, muskox and black carbon new additions to the Arctic Report Card

Though not as extreme as last year, the Arctic continues to show evidence of a shift to a new warmer, greener state in 2013, according to the Arctic Report Card, an annual report that details Arctic change released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP) led the development of the Arctic Report Card’s terrestrial and marine ecosystem chapters, which detail changes in plants, birds, benthos, fish, mammals and other species. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) coordinated scientific review. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.

“The Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade,” said David M. Kennedy, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, during a press briefing today at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco. “But the relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years: the Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems.”



Major findings of this year’s report include:

  • Vegetation: The Arctic is greening as vegetation responds to warmer conditions and a longer growing season. Since observations began in 1982, Arctic-wide tundra vegetation productivity (greenness) has increased, with the growing season length increasing by 9 days each decade.
  • Wildlife: Large land mammal populations continued trends seen over the last several decades. Muskox numbers have increased since the 1970s, in part due to conservation and introduction efforts, while caribou and reindeer herds continue to have unusually low numbers.
  • Air temperatures: While Eurasia had spring air temperatures as much as 7°F above normal, central Alaska experienced its coldest April since 1924 with birch and aspen trees budding the latest (26 May) since observations began in 1972. Summer across a broad swath of the Arctic was cooler than the previous six summers, when there had been pronounced retreat of sea ice. But Fairbanks, just below the Arctic Circle in Alaska, experienced a record 36 days with temperatures at or exceeding 80°F.
  • Snow cover: The snow extent in May and June across the Northern Hemisphere (when snow is mainly located over the Arctic) was below average in 2013. The North American snow cover during this period was the fourth lowest on record. A new record low was reached in May over Eurasia.
  • Sea ice: Despite a relatively cool summer over the Arctic Ocean, the extent of sea ice in September 2013 was the sixth lowest since observations began in 1979. The seven lowest recorded sea ice extents have occurred in the last seven years.
  • Ocean temperature and salinity: Sea surface temperatures in August were as much as 7°F higher than the long-term average of 1982-2006 in the Barents and Kara Seas, which can be attributed to an early retreat of sea ice cover and increased solar heating. Twenty-five percent more heat and freshwater is stored in the Beaufort Gyre, a clockwise ocean current circulating north of Alaska and Canada, since the 1970s.
  • Greenland ice sheet: During a summer when air temperatures were near the long-term average, melting occurred across as much as 44 percent of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, close to the long-term average but much smaller than the record 97 percent in 2012.

For the first time, scientists also released new information on marine fishes and black carbon.  Highlights: 

  • Marine fishes: The long-term warming trend, including the loss of sea ice and warming of waters, is believed to be contributing to the northward migration into the Arctic of some fish such as Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic cod, capelin, eelpout, sculpin and salmonids.
  • Black carbon: Black carbon (soot) originating from outside the Arctic has decreased by 55 percent since the early 1990s, primarily due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

“The Arctic Report Card presents strong evidence of widespread, sustained changes that are driving the Arctic environmental system into a new state and we can expect to see continued widespread and sustained change in the Arctic,” said Martin Jeffries, principal editor of the 2013 Report Card, science adviser for the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, and research professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “But we risk not seeing those changes if we don’t sustain and add to our current long-term observing capabilities. Observations are fundamental to Arctic environmental awareness, government and private sector operations, scientific research, and the science-informed decision-making required by the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic.”






Monica Allen (at AGU, San Francisco), +1 202-379-6693,  monica [DOT] allen [AT] noaa [DOT] gov

NOAA Communications 

John Ewald (in Washington, D.C.), +1 240-429-6127,  john [DOT] ewald [AT] noaa [DOT] gov

NOAA Communications

Lars-Otto Reiersen, +47 22958340,  lars-otto [DOT] reiersen [AT] amap [DOT] no
Executive Secretary, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Tom Barry, +354 861-9824,  tom [AT] caff [DOT] is

Executive Secretary, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

Courtney Price, +354 821-3609,  courtney [AT] caff [DOT] is

Communications Officer


About the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. To view this year’s report, visit’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.

About the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)

CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. CAFF´s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources. 

About the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)

Since its establishment in 1991, AMAP has produced a series of high quality reports and related communication products that detail the status of the Arctic with respect to climate and pollution issues and that include policy-relevant science-based advice to the Arctic Council and governments. AMAP is mandated to To monitor and assess the status of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change issues, to document levels and trends, pathways and processes, and effects on ecosystems and humans, and propose actions to reduce associated threats for consideration by governments, and to produce sound science-based, policy-relevant assessments and public outreach products to inform policy and decision-making processes.


polar bear. Photo: Garry DonaldsonWhitehorse, Yukon, Canada R12; The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, has released the Life Linked to Ice: a guide to sea-ice-associated biodiversity in this time of rapid change report, detailing changes in marine species and human communities as Arctic sea ice disappears, and making recommendations to the Arctic Council. 

The report has found that sea ice loss is affecting the very building blocks of life in the Arctic Ocean with changes resonating throughout entire food webs, affecting everything from ice-dependent algae to birds, fish, marine mammals and human communities that rely on sea ice for travel and food or for economic opportunities.

Changes are happening too quickly for some species to cope. Particularly vulnerable are species with limited distributions, specialized feeding or breeding requirements, and/or high reliance on sea ice for part of their life cycles. The report identifies the hooded seal, narwhal and polar bearR12; species that are vitally important to Indigenous communitiesR12; to be vulnerable to change.

Life Linked to Ice: Click to access the full reportOther changes can jeopardize some fisheries. For example, the 375 million USD (in 2011) walleye Pollock fishery in the Bering Sea might be reduced under a climate regime with more prolonged warm periods, as is projected by climate models.

Changes also mean that sub-Arctic species are expanding northwards, with potential economic opportunities. For example, the commercially fished snow crab has expanded northward in the Bering and Chukchi seas and moved into the Barents Sea. Other northward-extending species include several crab and mollusk species in the Chukchi Sea and the blue mussel in Svalbard. However, new and expanded activities related to resource extraction, shipping, fisheries, and cruise-ship tourism carry substantive risks and downsides to Arctic marine flora and fauna. The encroachment of southern species can also mean competition for Arctic-adapted species that are losing habitat along the southern edges of their ranges. 

The report offers four recommendations for actions, directed at the Arctic Council:

  1. Facilitate a move to more flexible, adaptable wildlife and habitat management and marine spatial planning approaches that respond effectively to rapid changes in Arctic biodiversity.
  2. Identify measures for detecting early warnings of biodiversity change and triggering conservation actions.
  3. Make more effective use of local and traditional knowledge in Arctic Council assessments and, more broadly, in ecological management.
  4. Target resource managers when communicating research, monitoring and assessment findings.

 It is important to note that the Arctic is a vast region, and changes will not be uniform across all areas and species. Individual speciesR17; responses to these changes will be uncertain and varied. Sea ice loss should also be viewed in the context of cumulative effects as it is interacting with other stressors, including development impacts, ocean acidification, and accumulation of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in food webs. Find out more about sea ice associated biodiversity or read the Life Linked to Ice report.


Risa Smith+1 778 838-4029 risa [DOT] smith [AT] ec [DOT] gc [DOT] caCAFF Chair

Tom Barry+354 861-9824 tom [AT] caff [DOT] isExecutive Secretary, CAFF

Courtney Price+354 821-3609 courtney [AT] caff [DOT] isCommunications Officer, CAFF


Images and graphics for press use

Access the following link on the CAFF site to download and use images for publication or click here to access the Arctic CouncilR17;s photostream on Flickr. Photos from both locations may be used in press stories but they must be credited according to the provisions on the site.

Graphics from the report are made available on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS).

About the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)

CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. CAFF´s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices which ensure the sustainability of the ArcticR17;s living resources.

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