Climate impacts on migration in the Arctic North America: existing evidence and research recommendations

Guangqing Chi, Shuai Zhou, Megan Mucioki, Jessica Miller, Ekrem Korkut, Lance Howe, Junjun Yin, Davin Holen, Heather Randell, Ayse Akyildiz, Kathleen E. Halvorsen, Lara Fowler, James Ford, Ann Tickamyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Arctic is experiencing a rapid temperature increase, four times faster than lower-latitude regions, disproportionately affecting rural, coastal, and Indigenous communities. These areas confront multiple urgent climate challenges. Adaptation strategies encompass out-migration, community relocation, and enhancing resilience, yet research in this critical area is notably limited, particularly for the most vulnerable communities. This paper presents a comprehensive review of environmental stressors and contextual factors influencing migration decisions in the North American Arctic. While migration is primarily driven by job opportunities, education, healthcare, cultural, and infrastructural factors, factors such as family, culture, safety, subsistence life, and community ties strongly influence residents to stay. The study reveals a lack of clear evidence for climate-driven migration at the individual/household level, but it underscores well-documented community-level relocations. Two major challenges in studying Arctic climate migration are identified: the complexity of migration and the uniqueness of Arctic climate change. Recommendations include considering migration typology, disentangling climate drivers from contextual factors, and addressing data limitations through systematic collection, integration, and creative use of traditional and nontraditional data. The paper underscores the importance of establishing partnerships with local communities to achieve a holistic understanding of factors driving migration or immobility, ensuring research outcomes are connected to addressing community challenges. This review lays the groundwork for empirical research on Arctic migration and community adaptation, aiming to comprehend the challenges faced by these communities and explore potential solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2024.


  • Adaptation
  • Arctic
  • Climate change
  • Community relocation
  • Environmental stressors
  • Migration


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