Environmental baselines, Impacts on people in the Nordic Arctic Regions

Project Description
Short Title: ENVISNAR
Project URL: http://www.ans.kiruna.se/meetings/envisnar/info.htm
Proposal URL: http://classic.ipy.org/development/eoi/proposal-details.php?id=213

There is increasing recognition that multiple environmental changes are occurring in the northern regions of Europe. Some of these environmental changes, for example climate warming, levels of UV-B radiation, and habitat fragmentation, are projected to continue leading to impacts on the lands of the Nordic countries unprecedented since deglaciation some 10,000 year ago.

There will likely be large impacts on the peoples of the North, both problems and opportunities, and consequences outside the region because of the important role that the Arctic plays in the earth system: changes in treeline and snow and ice cover affect the transfer of energy and water between land and atmosphere; changes in vegetation, soils and permafrost affect the atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases; millions of birds that breed and feed in the Arctic are important winter components of the biodiversity of European countries further south. Although some arctic Nordic observatories such as the Abisko Station have monitored the environment for nearly 100 years, and much research has been initiated within the last decade, our baseline information on multiple and often interacting environmental changes is still weak and our ability to project impacts of future environmental changes on ecosystems and the land surface at the landscape scale is poor. However, it is the landscape scale of changes that is relevant to people.

A new collaborative, co-ordinated programme is required to:
-provide a standardised, georeferenced baseline of environmental information, including statistics and processes, against which changes throughout the current century can be measured,
-develop models of climate, land use, biodiversity and ecosystem function that can be inter-linked and applied to landscape level projections
-establish standardised monitoring that can detect change at multiple local sites and that can validate model projections and remotely sensed data.

An &expedition& to northernmost Sweden will be arranged in which international scientists will be offered logistic support to join Abisko researchers working in the field. The research will be focused on large scale land-freshwater-atmospheric exchange studies at the catchment scale, and will include scientists from several natural science disciplines (such as plant ecology, bio-geochemistry, hydrology, biodiversity, GIS, remote science, meteorology etc). The bio-geo modelling community will be involved, particularly for upscaling.

The local Swedish indigenous people, the Saami , will be invited to host members of the indigenous peoples from around the Arctic to discuss and initiate collaboration on environmental issues and monitoring.

Joint meetings of the scientists working in the field, computer modellers and indigenous peoples will be arranged for cross-fertilisation and collaboration on environmental process understanding, monitoring and assessment, and projection of environmental change and its impacts.