Kevin Hillmer-Pegram* - University of Alaska Fairbanks
An interdisciplinary team of scholars recently defined and applied the concept of sea ice system services (SISS) to demonstrate the value of linking Arctic social-environmental changes and sea ice data to the varied needs of those who use or are impacted by sea ice. This paper builds on recent SISS research by expanding the application of the framework to the study of Arctic tourism. Within such a framework, sea ice is understood to provide system services that attract tourists to destination where sea ice is present. The framework also highlights, however, that these services are rapidly being altered as the physical feedbacks between sea ice, climate change, and other environmental forces shift. Alterations to tourism-related SISS, such as icescapes and polar bear viewing opportunities, will have important implications for the sustainability of the regional tourism economy - making problematic the popularly held notion that tourism will increase throughout the Arctic as sea ice shrinks. In order to assess the economic significance of potential alterations to tourism-related SISS, the researcher presents a synthesis of existing data that (1) quantifies the economic activity generated by sea ice-dependent tourism at a specific location and (2) examines the linkages between this activity and the international policy regime that governs Arctic tourism. Recommendations for adaptation across several scales are provided.