Global Issues, Local Concerns: Syntheses of Climate and Human Dimensions Issues in Myvatnssveit, Northern Iceland
Astrid Ogilvie, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA, Astrid.Ogilvie@colorado.edu, http://instaar.colorado.edu/people/bios/ogilvie.html
Trausti Jonsson, Icelandic Meteorologic Office
Iceland’s vulnerability to climate impacts in the past and potentially in the future, is due, in large measure, to the variability of the climate. This is a result principally of the country’s location at a point where contrasting air and ocean currents meet. From the times of the earliest settlers in the late ninth century up until the nineteenth century, the most important economic activity has been farming. Due to the unsuitability of the climate for grain-growing, this was based on animal husbandry. The most important livestock animals in Iceland have been sheep, cattle and horses, and the most important crop has been the grass and hay on which these animals depend for food. In the past, lack of food for the livestock could lead ultimately to deaths from hunger and malnutrition-related diseases. Bearing this historical context in mind, this presentation will consider present and possible future environmental changes in the Arctic and subarctic regions around Iceland, and will focus on human dimensions issues in one specific area, the Mývatn region in northern Iceland. As well as using the tools of scientific interdisciplinary research, the discussion will draw on local knowledge from farmers regarding their perception of climatic and environmental changes in the present and recent past, and their quest for sustainable development.