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Climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity in the agricultural sector in Northern Norway

Ingrid Kvalvik, Sigridur Dalmannsdottir, Halvor Dannevig, Grete K. Hovelsrud, Lars Rønning, Eivind Uleberg

As a primary industry, agriculture is directly dependent on natural conditions and therefore potentially vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. In Norway and Northern Norway in particular, the future climatic changes are expected to be overall positive. Still, the consequences for agriculture are not straightforward, but dependent on the interaction between different weather and biological elements, as well as political, economic and social conditions. In this interdisciplinary study we have assessed biological and agronomic effects of climate change, and their interaction with political, economic and social factors, to identify farmers' vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change. The assessments are based on downscaled climate change scenarios and interviews with local farmers in the three northernmost counties in Northern Norway (latitude 65.5° to 70°). The study shows that the farmers to a degree are vulnerable to a changing climate, not mainly because of the direct effects of changing growing conditions, but because these changes are an added factor to an already tenuous situation created by Norwegian agricultural policy and socio-economic development in general. We have found that farmers are highly adaptive, to both changing growing conditions and changing agricultural policies. However, changes in policy are currently a greater challenge to farmers than climate change, and such changes are therefore a more salient driver of vulnerability.

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