Permafrost thaw threatens community infrastructure and is already affecting buildings and houses across the North. We have developed community-scale hazard risk maps integrating vulnerability assessments, permafrost studies, hydrology, surficial geology, and climate change considerations. Hazard risk maps portray the relative risk of landscape processes that affect terrain stability in a community. The maps support community-based, future-focused adaptation planning, and have been used to site small-scale infrastructure projects, guide land planning processes, and assess suitability of land development applications.
However, assessing risk is only one step in integrating the implications of permafrost degradation and landscape change in community planning. Hazard risk maps in some communities may portray the bulk of community lands as medium or high risk, in particular in areas with ice-rich permafrost. Housing and building adaptations can allow for development in areas classified at a higher hazard risk. By assessing the costs related to addressing vulnerabilities and implementing adaptations, hazard risk maps can more fully enable community planning. We are conducting an economic analysis to reveal the financial costs and benefits of infrastructure adaptation choices in Arviat, Nunavut and Old Crow, Yukon. With this information, we will generate Cost-of-Adaptation maps and related products that can be used by community planners and decision makers to guide future infrastructure decisions. Our goal is to provide maps that help community decision-makers in Old Crow and Arviat, and ultimately across the Arctic and sub-Arctic, in making effective and sustainable planning and infrastructure choices in the face of climate change.